Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

Studies show that there is a direct correlation between the daily stress of law enforcement work and suicide, sleeplessness and cancer. Because of the lifestyle associated with law enforcement – high demands, high stress, and irregular work hours, law enforcement officers have an increased risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and brain cancer after 30 years of service.

In honor of World Cancer Day on Feb. 4, law enforcement agencies from Macon and Jackson counties are launching a fundraising campaign to help combat a disease that directly affects up to 21.7 million people per year.

Beginning Sunday, Feb 4, officers from Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Swain County Sheriff’s Office, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Sylva Police Department, Franklin Police Department, and Highlands Police Department will join together to raise money for the Cancer Care of Western North Carolina ,which offers outpatient cancer treatment for residents of across Western North Carolina.

“Several officers and their wives from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary approached me with this idea and I think this is an opportunity for the men and women of law enforcement to support a great cause,” said Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland. “We all have stories we could tell how cancer has affected our own families.  Our MCSO family lost one of our own members, Administrative Officer Linda Moody to cancer. We want to do our part to help make a difference for those who may be dealing with cancer or may be doing so in the future.”

Officers will be able to pay a fee to be able to grow a beard for the month of February in honor of World Cancer month. Typically, department policies require officers to be clean shaven while in uniform. Growing facial hair is a perk that will help the departments raise money for the cancer center. An online fundraising page on youcaring.com was established so the public can “sponsor” officers by donating in their name for the event. The public will then be invited to vote on the best beard for each department via the department’s Facebook pages. The officer with the most votes and the officer with the most money raised will be the winner.

Female officers are not being left out of the challenge. Female officers will have the opportunity to pay to wear the “casual” uniform for the month of February, another perk that will help raise money for the cancer center.

“I already have commitments from several departments in WNC who are going to join us with this fundraiser and next week I intend to challenge other administrators from other WNC law enforcement agencies to join us,” said Holland.

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