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Creating a buzz

Hilda Day
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (May 20/05) - Mark McConachie wants to show you some skin. The skin on his face, that is.

But it will come at a hefty price in the name of charity. He's offering to shave his beloved beard in an attempt to raise $25,000 for diabetes research.

Mark McConachie hasn't had any need for shaving cream in a long time. But he's now willing to part with his beard if he can raise $25,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

"I don't come cheap," McConachie growled playfully when asked if his goal is unrealistic in a community of 1,250 people.

Although he's relying on local residents and businesses to donate generously, he's also planning to seek corporate contributions in the North and beyond.

The Canadian Diabetes Association is a cause that is near and dear to his heart.

"I myself don't have diabetes but my grandfather did die from it," he said. When he was seven years old, McConachie was admitted to the hospital with an eye injury. His roommate, who was around his age, was being treated for diabetes. The two boys remained friends until the age of 14 when his friend died due to diabetic complications.

"That hurt," he said.

So now he has decided to aid the cause. Should he be successful in hitting, exceeding, or even coming close - he didn't say how close - to the $25,000 mark, he will gladly slide into Henry White's barber chair in July when Wayne Rostad and the television series On the Road come to Fort Simpson. Rostad will be touring the area with White as part of a feature on the Hay River-based barber.

"Having the beard shaved on television may be possible," said McConachie. "It would give a neat boost for the Diabetic Association."

Pierre Denis, a friend and co-worker, has faith that McConachie will reach his ambitious fundraising target.

"If he can raise money like he raises heck, he'll do it with no problem," Denis said, laughing. "I will definitely be contributing to his cause, at least a couple of hundred dollars. If Mark raises the $25,000, I'll shave my head!"

Whether the beard goes or not, all the proceeds will be sent to the Canadian Diabetes Association, McConachie noted. The University of Edmonton has a renowned diabetes research program and he is optimistic that they will make a breakthrough one day.

"I would like to live long enough to see them find a cure," he said.