Group honors Thomas Radley with hirsute event

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Beard-lovers filled a room at Cafe Rock in Lebanon to cheer men, women and children during the first annual Thomas Radley Memorial Beard Competition on April 1.
Despite taking place on April Fool’s Day, the competition was no joking matter. The Oregon chapter of Bearded Villains, which describes itself as a “brotherhood of elite bearded men from all over the world,” initiated the event to raise money for the Salem-based Darian’s Gift-Children’s Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to families of children diagnosed with cancer, because, as BVWOR Charity Officer Forrest Butler said, cancer doesn’t stop.

BEARD COMPETITOR Dylon McDermott allows judge Julie Kingery to feel his beard during the first annual beard competition hosted by Bearded Villains of Western Oregon on April 1. McDermott took second place in the “Dedicated (12 inches or longer)” beard category for his long mane.

“Every year more and more children are diagnosed, and it often takes multiple years to battle,” he said. “Because of this, foundations like Darian’s Gift are necessary to help those families focus on the fight.”
Thomas Radley, of Lebanon, was 14 when he died last December following a year-long fight with metastatic alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer that often occurs in the arms, legs and chest, and moves into the bones. His father, Casey, is a member of the BVWOR.
“We watched as Thomas went from a carefree kid to a warrior fighting cancer,” Butler said. “Although he isn’t with us anymore, his drive and fighting spirit is still with us, and through this competition, Thomas continues on with us.”

John Mance, who runs his another local beard club (Northwest Bearded Brothers) shows his third place trophy for the “Manly Beard” category.

The beard competition drew about 30 pogonophiles, including women and children with fake beards — formally known as “postiches” — or penned-on facial hair, vying for bragging rights and a gnome trophy. Thomas’ brother, Brayden Radley, 14, took first place in the Kids “Beardos” (rhymes with “weirdos”) contest for his soft mane and braided mustache.
The competition and auction earned as much as $6,742 for Darian’s Gift.
The BVWOR plans to host the Thomas Radley Memorial Beard Competition every first Saturday in April in honor of the young man, whose birthday was April 5, 2008.