Jimmy Niggles’ iconic beard shaving at the Million Dollar Beard Ball

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There are a lot of things that save lives, but none are as eccentric or legendary as Jimmy Niggles’ beard. That’s right – a sturdy Ned Kelly style bushranger beard. And it’s sold for A $ 1 million.

Ruffled chin mustaches have been developing for 11 years, creating a global phenomenon along the way. From meeting Chris Hemsworth, lifting a grown man and reproducing him as tattoos, to co-hosting an exhibition in London and getting his only cut from Sir Richard Branson, Jimmy’s beard has had a wild ride.

Although not just for a fun getaway. Dubbed the million dollar beard, Jimmy and his hairy asset saved people’s lives from one of Australia’s deadliest cancers – melanoma.

Not only does the million dollar beard raise awareness for the Beard Season charity, it continues the legacy of Jimmy’s best friend, Wes Bonny, who died of the disease at just 26.

“Melanoma was really unusual for us,” Jimmy says The CEO’s magazine. “It was something we associate with older people lying on the beach all day.

“We did a bit of research after the vigil and found that 69% of melanoma deaths are men. Young men. “

In Australia, about one person is diagnosed with melanoma every 30 minutes, and the most affected are men between the ages of 18 and 45.

In order to raise awareness, Jimmy and his friends decided to grow beards.

“We needed something that would embody commitment, because it’s a little bit of an effort to go and get checked out,” he explains. “There were these old farmers in the corner of the bar who had amazing beards and we thought no one was doing that at our age, so let’s do that.

After spending their first bearded winter encouraging people to have skin exams, seven people found a lesion that could have killed them.

“We realized the idea actually worked,” Jimmy says. “I continued to grow my beard to keep the idea alive.”

Fast forward 11 years since Jimmy started growing his beard and the death of Wes, and now is the time to celebrate the outstanding achievement. The triumph will take place in true beard season style with a festive Million Dollar Beard Ball.

“Skin cancer kills an average of five people a day.” – Jimmy Niggles

Hosted by Justin Hemmes and Jimmy de Merivale, as well as emcees Hamish Blake and Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli, the ball could also be the night Jimmy shaves his beard – if the fundraiser hits the gold bar. one million Australian dollars.

“It’s bittersweet,” Jimmy says. “It started out as something really horrible. That will never bring Wes back.

“I just hope the people we encourage to get checked out and find something, that it saves a lot of people from the heartache we had to endure after losing Wes.”

“The prom is basically just a celebration of the beard journey.”

And what a trip it’s been.

From its first monumental attraction at Somerset House in London, UK, which featured an exhibition called Beards and attracted 35,000 visitors in 2015, to meet Sir Richard Branson (“the best beard in business”) and potentially save the life of the founder of Virgin, the power of the beard is truly remarkable.

“On Necker Island, Sir Richard told me he had had a skin exam for the beard and found some concerns on his shoulder that he might not have found otherwise” , explains Jimmy.

Although the sturdy beard has never been cut in the past 11 years, it has been cut, but only once by none other than Sir Richard himself.

“I asked him to be the first person to cut the ends,” Jimmy recalls. “It was like having a limb cut.

“We shot [the trimmings] in a brush and we do a series of artwork by handing the brush over to some really beautiful Australian artists.

“Each time the brush is passed, it is a little less full.”

The first painting was created at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, with other pieces to follow as the series builds.

Those who attend the Million Dollar Beard Ball might come away with their own piece of art – a piece of a slightly different genre and something more sentimental.

Jimmy Niggles by Mr. Brock Elbank.

If the charity raises A $ 1million overnight, a hair specialist will shave Jimmy’s beard so it stays intact. Captured in a glass dome and golden plinth, the highest bidder will be awarded the honor of becoming the new Guardian of the Million Dollar Beard.

“Wes and I always used to do random challenges together in college and he was always really interested in bringing people together and doing fun things together,” Jimmy explains. “He would think that’s pretty hilarious and he wouldn’t have expected all of this.” We try to keep it at the center of everything we do.

Just days after the event kicked off, half of the Million Dollar Beard Ball tickets sold out and the ball is expected to be completely sold out.

In addition to auctioning beards, Moët & Chandon, La Roche-Posay, Hublot, Hamilton Island and Paspaley have all teamed up to donate exceptional items for the cause of skin cancer.

Described as a historic dinner, show and shave, the black tie event (which was slated to take place in 2020 but was postponed during COVID-19) is ultimately to raise funds for the country’s first nationwide program. targeted skin control to the world, which strives to bring pop-up skin control clinics that use artificial intelligence to regional areas.

“I hope we can get the attention of the right people who want to do good things because this thing won’t go away if we don’t work together,” Jimmy says. The CEO’s magazine.

The next chapter of the million dollar beard

Jimmy Niggles Million Dollar Beard Ball

As Jimmy prepares for his new look without his Ned-Kelly-esque beard, the announcer turned founder and CEO of Beard Season is working to save more lives in a new way.

“We have this new model for our national skin control program,” he says. “It only becomes viable this year.

“The idea of ​​a national screening program has been around for decades, but it has never proven to be viable, but with AI coming into play this year it will be a viable option and we want to be ahead. -keep of that.

Essentially, the charity’s model is to use specially trained nurses to do the screening. From there, the AI ​​analyzes images of suspicious legions and compares them to thousands of similar images to make the initial clinical diagnosis. Then a panel of about six dermatologists will assess the lesion based on all of the information before arriving at a final diagnosis.

“There are three levels of assessment compared to one,” Jimmy explains. “Dermatologists’ time is used much more efficiently because they don’t have to sit and wait for patients, so everyone’s time is used much more efficiently. And the AI ​​gets smarter every time you do a projection.

“This is a great example of how technology can be implemented to help improve the overall performance of the program.”

Thanks to the skin check program (called Project Check Mate), Jimmy believes he can perform 10,000 projections – the largest sample size in the world using this type of technology.

Having already assessed about 5,000 skin problems, the charity says it can complete 10,000 screenings in three years.

“The health economist at the University of South Australia estimates that we would need to find 30 melanomas at an early stage for the program to pay for itself,” he says. “Based on our previous few thousand skin checks at previous clinics, we should achieve this within 10 days of activation.

“The remaining 90 days of testing will save the economy and the healthcare system AU $ 28 million. It is quite convincing.

While two in three Australians are expected to contract some form of skin cancer before the age of 70, the mission of reducing melanoma rates is vital. Especially since the rate of Australians with skin cancer is 12 times higher per capita than in any other country.

“We do Hamilton Island Race Week every year and the first year we did it, we checked 750 people and found 75 confirmed cases of melanoma,” says Jimmy. “It’s after taking biopsies and everything.”

“The numbers are breathtaking. We literally save lives. “

Although the team is small, it’s a powerful army that strives to carry on Wes’ legacy while preventing more from adding to the melanoma death toll.

“It kills five people a day on average,” Jimmy says. “Everyone should be checked, especially in Australia.”

The Million Dollar Beard Ball will be held at the Ivy Ballroom, Sydney on May 13, 2021. The event is sold out but you can still make a pledge or participate in the auction by visiting the event page. Or, visit Skin Check Champions to learn more about the charity and Project Check Mate to get involved with their national skin check program.

Featured Image: Jimmy Niggles of Mr. Brock Elbank





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