Big beards and hearts give

Members of the Southern Ohio Beard Society were recently invited to partner with The Dragonfly Foundation of Cincinnati to help address the special needs of children with cancer. According to the group’s president, Josh Tolle, the society has donated all of the leftover toys from their Christmas drive to the foundation.

“We are so grateful to have been given this opportunity,” said Tolle, “The folks behind the Dragonfly Foundation are some of the most caring and selfless people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.We plan to continue our work with them.”

The Southern Ohio Beard Society was formed in 2015 by Tolle and three friends who “wanted to make a difference” for others. Since that time, both their membership numbers and reputation for doing charitable work have grown. Their mission is based based on seven principles: to make examples of good men, to show love to the unloved, to give hope to the hopeless, to bring communities together, to be positive role models for our youth, to maintain respect for our elders and those who came before us, and lastly, to always honor our American veterans.

The Dragonfly Foundation provides support to young patients and their families– as well as direct support to social workers, Child Life representatives, and hospital staff that care for patients while they are in the hospital. The support comes in the form of Caring, Community and Awareness that results in better Emotional health (C.A.R.E.).

The foundation gained notoriety in 2012 when Red’s announcer Marty Brennaman promised to have his head shaved if the Reds’ winning streak reached 10 games. It did, and Brennaman went under the razor. When it was over he rose from the barber’s chair, removed the barber’s cape and his Red’s jersey to reveal a T-shirt reading “I Am Still Me.” He then embraced three small cancer patients with similar shirts, and introduced the crowd to a nonprofit organization called the Dragonfly Foundation.

Ria Davidson, co-founder of the foundation said of Brennaman’s gesture, “If I can use a sports analogy, it was a grand slam. It meant so much. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.”

Brennaman brought Dragonfly some welcome attention, and the foundation, which helps young cancer and bone-marrow transplant patients and their families, capitalized. Operating in a realm where the vast majority of nonprofits, best of intentions aside, don’t make it past a second year, Dragonfly just celebrated its fifth birthday.”

According to the Dragonfly website, Christine Neitzke and Davidson founded Dragonfly in 2010, after Neitzke’s youngest son, Matt, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The mission is “to bring comfort and joy to kids and young adults and their families who are enduring cancer treatments and bone-marrow transplants.” Dragonfly stages frequent fundraisers and works with hundreds of volunteers to support its 12 programs.

Members of the Southern Ohio Beard Society traveled to Cincinnati to donate toys to the Dragonfly foundation. of the Southern Ohio Beard Society traveled to Cincinnati to donate toys to the Dragonfly foundation. Courtesy photo

By Patricia Beech

Reach Patricia Beech at 937-544-2391 or at