Shave it or Save it? Future of Fire Chief’s Mustache in the Hands of the People


BOLIVAR, Mo- Shave it…. or save it? That’s the question being asked right now in Polk County.

Bolivar City Fire Department’s Chief Ludden has a wicked mustache and its future is in your hands.

This is the ‘stache we are talking about: it’s over that upper lip and has the wax on the ends. It began all the way back for No-Shave-November and starting Wednesday, voting begins to either shave it or save it. But in order for your voice to be heard, it will take a donation to the Keeling Foundation for Kids.

“Laughing, I’, pretty sure I’m blushing.”

Chief Ludden, you’re as red as that fire truck behind you, at least it’s for a good cause.

It was an ice storm that canceled the fire department’s fundraising event earlier this year for the Keeling Foundation and so, the mustache is now up for debate.

“When we had the opportunity to keep all of the funds local, it just seemed like a natural fit for the fire department to focus our efforts on raising money for them,” says Chief Ludden.

$1 dollar means one vote, and it might not surprise you that Chief Ludden’s wife is organizing funds to get rid of the thing. Bolivar Mayor, Chris Warwick, has taken the martyr position to keep it.

“Our feeling was that if kids could participate in extra-curricular activities, that gives them a sense of self-worth,” says Jannis Keeling, Co-Founder Keeling Foundation 

Jannis Keeling and her late husband Gary organized the foundation in 2010 and have since given over $60,000 in aid to kids in Polk and Dallas County.

Their hope is that this over-grown facial hair is just a precursor of their increasing impact for kids that need it most.

“We want to be there as much as possible with what we can help them with.”

You can find information about the social media challenge and other public sightings of the stache on the Keeling Foundation’s Facebook page.

But that’s just the start of our conversation with Bolivar City Fire Department Chief James Ludden.

The major milestone in his own department, dealing with tragedy, and creating a culture of giving back, all things we discussed on the Daybreak podcast.

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