Shepherd, 10 other Alabama players don new hairdos for charity
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ In addition to being the University of Alabama starting right tackle, Austin Shepherd is also known for his ragged beard.
It’s usually something of a cross between what a lumberjack would sport and what TV viewers see on “Duck Dynasty.” So it’s a big deal to have both it and his hair trimmed down almost nothing like he did over the weekend, but Shepherd was happy to do it while helping raise nearly $18,000 for charity.
“One of my buddies, we were talking about fundraiser ideas, we talked about, ‘Man these Alabama fans would love to be around y’all,” Shepherd said. “Auction the cut hair and people will show up.”
Held on campus at the Signa Nu fraternity with Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, the weekend fundraiser was called “Jocks and Locks.” The idea was to auction off haircuts, with the highest bidder deciding the new style for 10 football players including quarterback Jacob Coker.
Proceeds went to the Austin Shepherd Foundation, which was created in October 2012.
“Me and my girlfriend Jenna King, her brother passed away from cancer 10 or so years ago,” he described. “She wanted me to go visit the hospital with her one day, Children’s of Birmingham. I was kind of nervous about it because I’m really uncomfortable in those situations, seeing kids like that. But we went up there, we kind of played with the kids, drew, painted, all that. I kind of fell in love with it.
“That night, me and Jenna, we got in the process of starting one. So we came up with that idea, so now we do the Austin Shepherd Foundation. We try to bring a kid and their family to at least every home game. Before the event, we raised over $30,000 so far and started the beads of courage program, which are hand-designed beads that people make. Every kid gets one for every overnight stay, every needle they get pricked into their arm. Heart transplant, kidney transplant, something of that nature, they’ll get a bead, and they just get strands and strands of them. The kids will have miles of beads and it’s about their journey so when they look back, they can see what they have. That’s the gist of it.”
Shepherd had initials and a big heart on the back of his head, and another heart on one side. Other designs including a thin Mohawk, sorority letters and tight end Brian Vogler essentially had a man’s face with a mustache.
“His is the most interesting and unique one,” Shepherd said. “We’re just trying to raise awareness for all this. Mine is a little girl named Charlie Jean. She’s 3 years old and just went into remission for cancer. She wanted a heart with her initials on it and I had to do that.”
Shepherd is hoping all of the players keep their new hairdos through Saturday’s season opener against West Virginia, but of the results can be seen on twitter at @JocksandLocks.
For more information check out the www.shepfoundation.org or www.beadsofcourage.org. write The Austin Shepherd Foundation, 14 Oakwood Court, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.