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Bye bye beard

Eric Gryba shaved his beard in an effort to raise support and awareness towards Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation.

by Kelli Gustafson / OilersFoundation.ca

Video: COMMUNITY | Gryba Beard Shave

Streaming live from the Oilers Hall of Fame room at Rogers Place on Wednesday, February 15, thousands of viewers watched as Eric Gryba said goodbye to his beloved beard.

"That's a lot of hair!" said the six-foot-four Oilers defenceman, looking at the newly shaved hair that surrounded his chair.

PHOTO GALLERY

As a longstanding supporter for the Teammates for Kids Foundation, - co-founded by Country superstar Garth Brooks - Gryba shaved his now-infamous beard in efforts to raise support and awareness towards the worthy cause.

"It's a charity I feel very strongly about," said Gryba.

"I started donating to the charity when I first came into the League," he added. "Meeting Garth [Brooks] a couple of times and seeing all that the charity has done, for me [I believe] it's a good charity because they cover all of the overhead costs so that 100 per cent of the money goes to the kids."

In partnership with other professional athletes and celebrities, the Teammates for Kids Foundation focuses on raising funds towards children's health, education and inner-city outreach initiatives. With Garth Brooks and a group of other professionals pledging to handle the overhead costs, the Foundation ensures that 100 per cent of the money raised goes directly to the kids in need.

"Between Garth and Trisha [Yearwood] backing this, it's been crazy," smiled Gryba.

On February 8, Gryba posted a video to social media, calling on fans to 'like' the video on the Edmonton Oilers Facebook page. If the 'likes' reached 5,000, Gryba pledged to donate $5,000 to Teammates for Kids. Garth Brooks responded to Gryba's message saying he would match the $5,000 if the video reached 25,000 'likes'. Surpassing this goal, Gryba helped raise a total of $22,500 with a $2,500 from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) and an additional $10,000 from Trisha Yearwood - under one circumstance: Garth Brooks doesn't shave his beard.

With all conditions met, members of the media gathered Wednesday morning to watch as Gryba bid farewell to his facial hair.

Assisted by 10-year-old Ethan Hughes, a patient from the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, an electric shaver steadily trimmed away Gryba's beard.

"You know you're the only person I've ever let shave my beard?" Gryba said to the young boy.

With the last swipe of the razor, Gryba and Ethan shared a high-five before the defenceman turned to him and asked, "I think we should go look at the locker room, what do you think?"

Ethan's eyes lit up at the suggestion and the pair walked off, leaving behind them a beard and clippers, but walking away with big smiles.

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