The Kutztown Police Department participated in No Shave November, putting down their razors for one month and growing beards to raise funds for two Berks County youth battling cancer.

“You will see several of members of the department sporting facial hair with the intent to evoke conversation and raise cancer awareness. In addition to promoting awareness, our goal is to raise funds to help defray medical costs for two brave young people who are battling cancer,” wrote the Kutztown Police Department on their Kutztown PD – No Shave November GoFundMe page at the start of the fundraiser. “We ask the public to join us by stowing the razor for the month of November and/or at very least spark conversations with your family members and friends about cancer awareness.”

All donations will be forwarded to the families of Kutztown native Niki Nolte, a freshman at Penn State University, and Anthony Myers, 16, a sophomore at Berks Catholic.

Nolte was first diagnosed with primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma during her junior year at Kutztown High School. She started her senior year cancer free. Shortly after celebrating a year cancer free, she was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a result of her previous treatment for lymphoma.

Myers, who is the son of Kutztown High School Assistant Principal Dr. Edward Myers, has been diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a rare cancerous brain tumor.

“The response has been great,” said Chief Craig Summers. “It really has been positive.”

“Thank you, to the community for helping us out with this; it wasn’t just a police department thing, the whole community pitched in,” said Patrol Officer William Wyandt. “It’s raised awareness. I would not have otherwise known either of these two kids that are involved here. There’s a lot of it going on everywhere, especially this time of year; there’s millions of charities and this is one close to home.”

Criminal investigator Michael Clery explained that the idea for participating in No Shave November was brought up by Kutztown Police Sergeant Raymond Schell.

“Thought it would be a good idea to do something like this to give back to the community and to help (Nolte and Myers),” said Clery. “This is the first time we’ve ever done this.” With a laugh, he said, “This is the longest my beard has ever been.”

Clery noted that members of the police department are not permitted to have facial hair other than a mustache so shaving is a must normally.

“It’s been fun. We’ve raised a lot of money, approaching $4,000,” said Clery.

Wyandt said there has been friendly competition among the members of the department, including the grayest beard, best beard, worst beard and longest.

“Though if they win that they have to donate more money, that is their prize,” added Summers with a smile.

Every officer participated with each paying $50 in order to participate, including female members donating toward the cause.

“We had 100 percent participation which is actually unusual for anything when you start thinking about that,” said Summers. “I think that’s because of the cause and these kids who have local community connections. Everybody knows Dr. Myers over at the high school and Niki Nolte’s parents also have connections at the high school as well.”

Summers said their main goal is to raise awareness about cancer and to try to raise some funds for Nolte and Myers. Initially, they started with a goal of raising $1,000 but hit that goal pretty quickly so they raised it to $5,000. They are nearing about $4,000 raised.

“It’s brought the community out, too. They’re giving donations and a lot of positive comments online from them about it being a worthy cause and thanking us for doing it,” said Clery.

To make a contribution, donate on the Kutztown PD – No Shave November GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/kutztown-pd-no-shave-november.

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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