CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Ryan Weatherwax fought back tears as he spoke to a crowd of dozens while holding thousands of dollars of cash in his hand.
That crowd came out Monday night, Oct. 17, to The Coop Bar and Grill in Conway to celebrate raising that money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
They all took a break from drinking beer, watching football and playing cornhole to listen as Weatherwax - clutching a portion of the $8,200 collected over two weeks - talked and watch 30 men have their heads shaved in support of breast cancer awareness.
Smiles and laughter were abundant throughout the crowd as the willing participants shed their locks.
For Weatherwax, however, the event was much more personal.
The owner of The Coop, Weatherwax lost his sister to breast cancer on Oct. 7, 2006. Since then, he has worked on different endeavors to shed light on the disease and keep his sibling's memory alive.
Through a meeting with a group of Coastal Carolina University students, The Coop's event was born.
Adam Walton, 20, a business management student at CCU, said one class project called for them to work with an organization or business to promote a specific cause.
One of Walton's fellow students talked with Weatherwax about partnering up and the fundraiser was born.
Each of the men having their heads shaved were sponsored by a woman who raised money in their names, according to Weatherwax.
The goal was $10,000 to $13,000, but the impact of Hurricane Matthew and the subsequent flooding probably had an impact on fundraising efforts, Weatherwax added.
Still, he was thrilled with the amount accumulated in such a short time. Some of the donations came from people living in places like Ohio and Massachusetts.
"This is something you can leave here and feel good about yourself, like going to church," Weatherwax told the crowd. "When you leave here, you did something good."
Twenty percent of the money raised went to a college fund for Weatherwax's nephew, Ian. The rest was given to Look Good Feel Better, a program that offers beauty sessions to improve the self-image of cancer patients.
For Walton, who left Monday night with a shaved head and a good grade, the initiative was well worth it. Plus, his new look isn't too far removed from past haircuts.
"I always had a buzz cut growing up," Walton said.