DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE BEARD?

The 1st of September. A memorable date. The day I’ve been on the road for a year. The day my beard had been growing a year. And the day my beard was cut and shaven off. All for charity.

In Panama I was getting nervous, pacing around the hostel, mixed feelings and having doubts. On the other side of the world, in Amsterdam, around 80 people, all supporters of 99%RIDE, were enjoying a dinner at L’Entrecôte et les Dames, the location for the fundraising dinner being held.

IMG_8491While the guests were enjoying the delicious entrecôte and wine, I was getting ready for a live Skype feed with them, but also looking for a pair of scissors and a trimmer. Today was going to be the day that my beard would be auctioned off. Literally. Shaving in front of an audience, all in the name of charity.

Around 14:30 Panama time my little brother sent me a message. “Dirk, get ready to shave your beard, we’ve raised €1730,- for you to shave it off. People want to see this”.
I thought, “Holy sh*t, that’s a huge amount of donations they raised for the beard!!!”
My heart started beating faster and I was breaking a serious sweat. I looked at Linda and Alessandro, two Italians I had met in the hostel and who were going to help me cut and shave my beard. They were smiling, of laughter. I was smiling too, but of nervousness. My hands were shaking a bit. Guest rider Steven was on my side too, holding a camera to record it all; also he had a big grin on his face.
Some people that were also in the hostel gathered round the table, it’s not everyday you see a man shave his beard off, especially not in front of a crowd.
“Great, even more people to watch this…” I was thinking.

The video connection with the restaurant was made and the first locks of the beard were taken off. An incredible amount of ginger coloured hair disappeared into the trashcan. In the background I heard people in the restaurant laughing, clapping and cheering. People around the table were watching in amazement. I started to sweat even more.
The scissors were put away and the razor was turned on. It was really happening, after a year of proudly growing a full-on beard it was being shaved off. A few minutes later the beard was gone. I felt naked, cold. A boy in puberty waiting for his first facial hair to grow. Someone in the hostel said I looked younger. I was thankful. There were still a couple of months of cycling and visiting projects ahead of me, enough time to, if I wanted, to grow another beard. The beard had a purpose though, and it was definitely worth shaving off, too.

An amazing amount of donations were raised that night in Amsterdam. The beard was just the tip of the iceberg. In total the fundraising dinner raised just over €7000,- for 99%RIDE. An amazing amount that I still can’t really grasp. A lot of time and effort was put into this evening, for which I would like to thank a couple of wonderful people for.

First off my parents and brothers, without them I don’t even know if 99%RIDE would have existed. Their unconditional support has given me the strength to do what I am doing today. It was initially their idea to set-up the fundraising dinner, and they did one hell of a job! I am very proud and blessed which such a family.

Willem Raymakers. This guy has known my family all my life. His energy and support in organising the fundraiser and getting people motivated for the event is incredible. Willem, you rock!

John Eussen. This dude is my homeboy, my best friend. Since the start of 99%RIDE he’s been around me and showing support, giving me advice and helping in several different ways. Dude, you’re part of the team and I’m incredibly happy you’re around! John is also responsible for the “Did you hear about the beard?” shaving session. Thanks man, I look a lot younger now 😉

Wilmar, Alexander and Olaf. The team running the restaurant where it all took place; L’Entrecôte et les Dames. Without this amazing restaurant and their awesome staff the whole evening wouldn’t have even taken place. They’ve put countless hours into the event and without them 99%RIDE wouldn’t have received such a great amount of donations. I am grateful for you all helping us out and I can’t wait to be back in Amsterdam to enjoy a nice dinner with you guys!IMG_8503

Wouter and Samantha. You’ve been with me from the start of 99%RIDE, first a bit hesitant about the whole idea, yet you agreed to join me on this adventure to see where it would lead to. From Alaska to Mexico and now in Amsterdam, you’ve been spreading the word and supporting the good cause. Keep it up, together we’ve created something pretty special and already it’s great to look back at what we’ve achieved.

To all the guests and supporters that joined the fundraising dinner; I am thankful for your amazing support. Because of you we are now able to help even more children in South America. Keep following our progress and see what’s going to happen next. You are making a difference!

The 1st of September 2014 there was no cycling, just shaving. All for charity.

From Panama,

Dirk Spits

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