In 2012, to raise awareness about men's cancers, Jud Davis started a beard-growing contest between the church he attended, Woodford County's Pisgah Presbyterian, and Lexington's Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church.
Davis had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in January 2011. He died in March 2012 at 58, just weeks after he began Beards for Buds (as in buddies). His goal was to see which congregation could raise the most money and grow the best beards in support of fighting men's cancers.
This year, Davis' wife, Lynn, and their pastor, Pete Jones, have taken the Beards for Buds effort beyond the churches to anyone who wants to participate. It began Jan. 1, and the two are making a mid-campaign push to get more people involved.
"So many people are affected by cancer in so many ways that we just figured there might be a lot of people for whom this may resonate," said Lynn Davis.
The 2014 contest will culminate with a celebration in which some participants will compare beards and others will simply make donations from 6 to 8 p.m. on Fat Tuesday, March 4, at Blue Stallion Brewing Co., 610 West Third Street.
Lynn Davis said the party was open to anyone who would like to be a part of the fundraising effort for cancer research.
During the past two years, Beards for Buds has raised more than $20,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society. Some funds have been designated for a men's cancer support group, for a lodge where families may stay while in Lexington for treatment and for cancer research in general.
This year's Beards for Buds campaign has been marked by more attention on social media, with people making online donations, said Jones.
Kyle Brown, associate pastor at Maxwell Street Presbyterian, said that as part of the campaign, North Lime Coffee & Donuts in Lexington had created a "bearded" doughnut — a peanut butter and honey-glazed doughnut with sprinkles on the bottom. It is sold on Mondays in February. Ten percent of all of the doughnut shop's proceeds on Mondays this month go to the American Cancer Society, co-owner Heidi Hays said.
Jud Davis got the Beards for Buds idea after seeing a contest on the Weather Channel between on-air personalities Jim Cantore and Mike Bettes.
There are national efforts — such as No Shave November — that are similar to Beards for Buds.
Brown said he hasn't shaved since November, participating in No Shave November and Beards for Buds. "My wife is to the point of — she's ready for me to shave it," he said.
Meanwhile, Jones said that in continuing Beards for Buds, he and Lynn Davis were trying to honor Jud Davis' memory "by helping other people."
"That's the way he lived his life each and every day," Jones said.