With the 11 contestants lined up in front of the stage behind her, Deb Bedwell announced the Hairless for the Homeless fundraising total.
“If you know me, it’s all I can do not to bawl over this. We raised $24,001. I am just over the moon,” the executive director of Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry said Friday night at the Seymour Oktoberfest.
She then asked Heather Grube, Dave Hill, Jim Lucas and Drew Markel to step forward. They were all safe from having their head shaved.
Bill Abbott, Brad Lucas and Dr. Eric Fish then stepped forward.
“Top three or are you safe?” Bedwell asked. “Oh yes, you’re safe.”
Then the top four, Bob Tabeling, the Rev. Dr. Jeremy Myers, Dr. John Hiester and Robert Walls, were announced, drawing applause from the crowd.
Bedwell said Myers finished fourth with $1,720, and Walls was third with $2,075.
“That leaves John and Bob. Who will it be?” Bedwell asked. Then someone said, “Both of them,” and Bedwell responded, “We could work that out.”
Tabeling was runner-up with $2,590, leaving Hiester the winner with an astounding $11,610. That drew even louder applause.
This marked Hiester’s second time winning the contest, which was conducted for the fourth time since 2001. Each contestant was encouraged to raise at least $1,000.
When he won in 2003, Hiester brought in $9,069.31 of the $17,076 raised. He said the staff at his orthodontics office did a few different fundraisers.
This year, his wife, Amy, challenged him to raise $10,000 to shave not only his head but his entire body. That happened with the help of an anonymous donor, who matched money put on his account up to $10,000.
So Friday night, Becky Morris and her team from The Buzz Hair Design Studio with help from some of Hiester’s family members and co-workers shaved his head, face, arms, chest and back.
He said he had been growing his beard for six months and got his hair cut about three weeks ago, but he has never shaved his chest, back or arms.
“I am absolutely freezing right now,” Hiester said.
When it was all said and done, he knew it was for a good cause. Anchor House is a homeless shelter for families and offers a food pantry for those who need it.
“That’s the main thing. It’s just helping out people who need some help,” he said. “The society as it is now, it’s one of those things I’m just so sick of all of the negative news, and it’s something that’s good news. I’m loving having good opportunities for good news rather than all of the bad stuff that is happening.”
Bedwell was the first one to go bald Friday night. She had set a goal for herself to raise $2,000 and reached that mark a few weeks ago.
She then asked Tabeling if he would be willing to shave his head and mustache. He agreed to do it.
Myers, Walls and Jim Lucas also stepped up to the plate.
After all of them were bald, it was Hiester’s turn. A woman in the crowd took up a collection of money to add to his total, bringing in another $155.
That made the overall total raised $24,156, coming in second to the $30,000 raised in 2001.
Myers, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Seymour, allowed his head to be shaved but not his beard.
“I want my church and my people in the community to be reminded that there are still people that need help,” he told the crowd.
“It shouldn’t just be during Oktoberfest that we seek to help those in need,” he said. “It should be all year-round, so I’m going to shave my head so that everybody sees my shiny dome and they are reminded that Anchor House and the community of Seymour still need help and we need to do what we can to help those in need.”
Tabeling, director of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department and a member of the Anchor House board, was up next. Fish took a few swipes with the razor before Morris took over.
Tabeling said he had never shaved his head, and he had had his mustache for 37 years.
“It’s a new feeling. It does feel a little bit different,” he said. “I’ve already had people tell me, ‘You’ll love it because there’s nothing to do to it. You don’t need anything to get ready, so it’s easy to take care of.’”
In raising money, he said his daughter, Brittany, and wife, Barb, contacted family members and other people they knew. Chillicen and St. Ambrose Catholic Church also collected money.
“We really just let everybody know what was going on and what the cause was all about, and it kind of speaks for itself when it comes to that,” he said. “We had some great donations, and we had some last minute. I’m surprised how much we raised.”
Even though he didn’t raise the most money, Tabeling said he felt called to go bald.
“You made the commitment to do that, and I was really surprised by how much money this raised because there’s a lot of things that have gone on in the last 30 days, a lot of opportunity to put your money in the right place,” he said. “Obviously, the whole event is a fun thing to do and raise funds for Anchor House, so I thought I could go ahead and pitch in.”
He also knows his hair will grow back.
“People have asked me, ‘Did you want to win? Did it matter?’ and I said, ‘It’s for a good cause, and if I raise enough funds to win, then I’ll do it,’” he said. “It might take me six months to get it all back, but it’ll come back.”
Walls was asked to compete after becoming familiar with the Anchor House staff through his employer, Skaggs Builders, helping with recent renovations at the facility on South Vine Street in Seymour.
“I really got to be friends with all of them, and I saw people coming in and out of there that needed help, so I just decided, ‘Hey, why not? It’s a good cause. I will try to raise as much as I possibly can for the cause,’” he said.
Walls said he hadn’t shaved his facial hair in about two years, and the hair on his head had grown out for nearly eight months. He had never been bald.
“I usually stick with about a No. 2 or so, not this short,” he said. “It feels a little cooler, about 20 degrees cooler.”
Like the others, he knew it was all in fun to help a good cause.
“I don’t really think it was about winning,” Walls said. “It was just about the cause and just helping as much as you could. First, second, third, last, it doesn’t matter. We all did good.”
As far as competing again next year, a couple of those who went bald had mixed feelings.
“Uh, yeah, maybe I won’t. I want to hand that off to someone else next year,” Tabeling said.
“I don’t know,” Hiester said. “We’ll see.”
Eleven people competed in this year’s Hairless for the Homeless fundraiser for Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry.
The total raised was $24,156.
The top four were:
1. Dr. John Hiester, $11,765
2. Bob Tabeling, $2,590
3. Robert Walls, $2,075
4. The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Myers, $1,720
Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry is at 250 S. Vine St., Seymour.
Staffed shelter hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
The food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays. People can come once in a 30-day time period.
For information, call 812-522-9308 or visit anchorhouseshelter.org.