Jerry Aulenbach (also known as @zoomjer on Twitter) is currently embarking on his fifth annual cross-country Beards on Ice tour, with a goal of raising $20,000 for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. This year, he’s “Taking Care of Business” and will be making 20 stops across Canada.
If you’ve been living in Edmonton for a substantial amount of time, you’ve likely already heard of Jerry Aulenbach. From volunteering at his church to being a judge at the coveted Rock Skip Open, Jerry loves to give back to his community, and if there’s an initiative happening in the city you’re bound to see him there.
He’s well-known in the local foodie community and is a bonafide bacon enthusiast. Before Beards on Ice, he gained a reputation as Edmonton’s “Bacon Man” for attending events around the city dressed as a strip of bacon. Yes, he really, really loves his bacon.
Fast forward to 2014, and Jerry has set aside the bacon suit to rebrand himself as the “Bearded Man.” Soon after, he came up with the idea of hosting a nationwide skating tour to help raise money for Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.
“It started out as a bit of a joke, because I’m really not that great a skater. I combined that with a desire to raise money for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, and the idea took off!”
The first Beards on Ice tour was held in 2015. Since then, Jerry has been hosting Beards on Ice in various communities across the country. He never anticipated that the event would become as popular as it is, but the first tour was a hit, and he managed to raise $10,670 for the Shelter Foundation that year.
“It hit me after the first year when people started to ask if I was going to do it again. I figured if they were expecting it then I had better keep it going.”
The event grew larger year after year, and Jerry started adding more stops to the tour. In January 2019, he made his first international stop in Hawai’i. With an apparent lack of snow and ice on the island, Jerry held the event at a roller park, which became the inspiration of last year’s tour photo shoot.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned skater or it’s your first time hitting the ice, Beards on Ice is open to anyone who wants to come for a skate and mingle with the crowd. “I have seen people who barely know how to skate and I’ve seen some who have been in figure skating for 50 years. It’s really a great cross-section of people.”
After skating, the group goes out together to grab some food, drinks, and socialize with one another. What better way to get some fresh air, donate to a good cause, and “break the ice” with people in your city?
What brings these people together isn’t necessarily the skating, but the cause that Beards on Ice supports. The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation helps fund women’s shelters and violence prevention programs across Canada. Jerry has always been a philanthropist at heart, and for the past decade he’s actively supported the Shelter Foundation with an annual fundraiser to raise money for local shelters. Before the conception of Beards on Ice, Jerry would organize and host a “Tweet Up” fundraiser called #yeghelp that featured live music, hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction.
In an article published by Carly Neill in Leading Edge magazine, Jerry explains the reasoning behind his fundraising efforts:
“The reason I am doing this is because I want to help support those who have to make unwanted major life changes due to domestic violence…Fleeing an abusive household is scary and difficult and has a lasting effect on all involved. Nobody should have to live in fear, and the programs and safe houses we support through the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation work tirelessly to that end.”
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. For all of his fundraising work, Jerry has been awarded the Shelter Individual of the Year award in 2009, and again in 2017. He’s raised a total of $23,000 for the Shelter Foundation so far, with 100% of proceeds going towards shelters and programs that support those fleeing from domestic violence.
Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they wear skates.
If you’d like to attend a skating event in your city, visit the Beards on Ice event page to see a list of tour dates. Even if you can’t attend, you can still make a donation to the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation and help break the cycle of family violence in Canada.