On Monday, 428 people at Granite Telecommunications in Quincy, MA shaved their heads in the lobby of their corporate headquarters, raising $2.1 million to support cancer research.
The idea began as a joke when CEO Rob Hale dared one of his employees, who sported a ZZ Top-style beard, to take it off for charity. It turned into something far beyond expectations.
“I told him, we’ll give $10,000 if you’ll shave it, and he agreed to do it,” Hale tells the Good News Blog. “The next day, one of our teammates said his family had been affected by cancer, and he would be willing to shave his head for $1,000.”
Hale sent an email around saying that he’d donate money for anyone who agreed to follow suit. When the number of people involved neared 100, Hale said he would double that amount, making it $2,000 a head. When it neared 300, Hale’s mother got involved, agreeing to match the initial pitch and bringing the stakes to $3,000 a head. When close to 400 employees were ready to be sheared, Hale set the bounty at $5,000 a head.
In no time at all, the total was at over $2 million.
“In a few weeks, it went from a whimsical comment to a galvanizing moment,” Hale remarks. “It makes a powerful statement about our company, and it makes a powerful statement about cancer.”
Nearly two-thirds of the male employees at Granite Communications were part of the cutting ceremony Monday, as well as 20 women who either went bald or put their coifs toward Locks for Love. Eighteen local barbers donated their time, lining up chairs in the lobby of the office and trimming away as music played in the background. There were also gift bags for everybody and a mural to be signed.
“It speaks to a team that’s caring compassionate, bold, energetic; I hope we are all those things and I think we showed that Monday,” Hale comments. “The other truth, cancer affects everybody… nearly everybody who was doing was doing it support or to memorialize someone who has fought or is fighting cancer.”
That includes Hale, who lost his father to pancreatic cancer six years ago. All the money raised will be donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a hospital which helped Hale’s father survive more than 18 months after his diagnosis.
All in all, the Granite Communications team did something immense that will be felt far behind the walls of their building.
“It was a really an electric couple of hours,” Hale remarks.
For once, it appears everybody got the memo.