The razor has jumped into the lead but, as he and his fellow Tiger-Cats seem to say every July: “It’s early yet.”
So there’s still time for a scissors rally.
Mike Filer, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ starting centre the past six seasons, will either cut off most of his considerable mop of hair or shave off his trademark beard on Jan. 17, as part of a fundraising campaign for the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation.
The hirsute Filer, one of the most fan-popular Ticats, lost his mother Kimberley Filer to cancer last January. She spent nine years taking treatments at Juravinski, including a stem cell transplant. So as a payback and fulfilling a promise to his mother, “Mike’s Manscaping Challenge For Cancer” supports “Tomorrow Stems From You,” the hospital’s drive to raise funds for a new stem cell transplant unit.
Anyone can cast a vote, or many votes, by donating to the campaign and then selecting either ‘Shave the Beard!’ or ‘Cut the Hair’ on the website at hamiltonhealth.ca/mmc4c.
“The shave is taking off like crazy,” says Filer, who’s also a guitarist and could pass for a member of The Sheepdogs. “I have no idea why people want me to shave my beard.”
Filer, one of the top offensive linemen in the CFL, began growing his facial hair about seven years ago, during his final year at Mount Allison University, before he went to the CFL draft combine.
“I wasn’t a big prospect out of university, so I kind of wanted something that could make me stand out from the other kids at the combines,” he says. “Something that would get you noticed at first. I wanted to see it where it would go.
“This is my image now. Essentially I’m kind of known for it — the guy with the big beard — although we’ve got (fellow bearded offensive lineman) Ryker Mathews now.”
The dark hair flowing from his head and chin is part of Filer’s public identity and he admits that at first he was “a little questioning of this, but I’m doing it for my mom and for a great cause.
“If it’s the beard that’s shaved off, I’ve already got a new look planned: a pretty dirty handlebar moustache. If it’s the hair, I’ll chop several inches off and donate the hair for wigs. My mom had to wear wigs.”
Filer had made a donation to the hospital’s stem cell program in September and the new campaign arose from that. The Ticats media crew put together a video to support it.
The goal is to raise $5,000 for each alternative, for a total of $10,000, and so far $3,500 has been pledged.
“My mom was there for nine years as a patient and her doctor Dr. Graeme Fraser is still there,” Filer says. “It was first class, and everyone there treated us like gold.”
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