As the Chicago Blackhawks gear up to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, their fans continue to show support in a team tradition that not only brings the community together but also benefits a variety of charitable causes. The Blackhawks entered the National Hockey League’s annual Beard-a-thon in 2009, harnessing the custom of the “playoff beard” for a nationwide philanthropic initiative. By signing up and creating a profile on the official Beard-a-thon website, Blackhawks fans across the country pledge to grow their beards until their team’s playoff run is over. Participants reach out to their friends, families, and coworkers to garner support for their cause, using Beard-a-thon’s online profile and social media tools to raise awareness and share their progress.
The Blackhawks rank each beard grower by his accumulated donations and offer a variety of prizes as participants’ beards and financial pledges grow more impressive. Growers who earn $100 for charity will receive an autographed photo from a Chicago Blackhawks ambassador, while participants with over $500 in donations receive a Stanley Cup Playoffs program, a gift bag, and a puck signed by a Blackhawks player. Additional prizes include two weekend passes to the 8th Annual Blackhawks Convention and a memorabilia stick signed by the 2014-2015 team, while the grand prize winner will receive four tickets to a regular season home game, as well as a post-game tour of the Blackhawks locker room.
The league-wide Beard-a-thon has raised over $3 million for NHL charities since its inception. Going into the finals, the Blackhawks Beard-a-thon encompassed over 1,000 growers and nearly $30,000. The team will donate the proceeds from the 2015 event to Rettsyndrome.org and the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, as well as Chicago Blackhawks Charities, which supports initiatives in health, education, and housing throughout Illinois.