Howell's Beard Gang serves bigger purpose
Posted February 29, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Around the RBC Center during North Carolina State basketball games, fans can be found wearing shirts that have a “Beard Gang” logo on them. The shirts are in honor of the bearded Wolfpack forward Richard Howell and serve a special purpose.
Before the season, Howell and his friends decided the bearded big man needed a fan club - Howell’s beard gang was born.
“We talked about it one day and the next minute we made the shirts,” Howell said.
The shirts were made by Howell’s friend, Jeremy Deckelbaum, a business major at NC State.
“Everybody started wanting the shirts, from the team, my friends, and I got a hundred made,” Deckelbaum said. “(I) sold a hundred in three days. Once I realized that this really could become something, I talked to Rich and said, ‘Rich, man, we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do with this money.’”
Howell then thought of his past. His sister, Brianna, died in a car crash six years ago.
“It’s something that really hurt me, and it took me awhile to get used to,” Howell said.
Remembering how he dealt with losing his sister during his teenage years, Howell wanted the shirt sales to go to a charity that helped children.
Deckelbaum suggested the Make-A-Wish foundation. For the foundation, Deckelbaum says the shirts have raised more than $3,000 to date, but the goal is to get up to $10,000.
“We’re going to select a local family, hopefully, an NC State family, and we’re going to grant their wish,” Deckelbaum said about their plans for when they get to $10,000. “Send them on their way to Disney World or whatever they want to do.”
Of course, the better Howell plays, the more the shirts sell. With two games before the start of the ACC Tournament, Howell is averaging 10.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game and is one of three Wolfpack players to start all 29 games.
“Everybody wants to be part of the Beard Gang now,” Deckelbaum said. “We’re getting a lot of calls, and I think we’ll be at our goal before we know it.”