Ike's beard goes for charity

Michael Iaconelli has put his beard, more accurately a long-whiskered soul patch, up for public auction. As you read this, it's on eBay, available to anyone who wants a fishing collectable and who wants his or her money to go to a worthy cause.

The whole thing started when Ike agreed to shave his beard for his wedding. Becky — his fiancée at the time, now his wife — wanted it removed. Ike, being a reasonable man, at once saw the wisdom of her thinking. He told her she could shave it off the night before the wedding. She did just that.

Never satisfied unless he's helping someone less fortunate, Ike immediately began looking around for a charitable opportunity. He found it in his friendship with Eli Delany, whose son, Luke, suffers from autism.

Luke is schooled at the New England Center for Children, a nonprofit that specializes in the treatment of autism. They're "dedicated to bringing out human potential and creating productive lives for children with autism" and are generally considered to run one of the best autism programs in the country.

"It's a great program and a great school. They've been in business since 1975 and are considered first-class by everyone in the business," says the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion and 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. "That's the kind of charity we want to be involved with and one you can feel comfortable with when you bid.

"Autism is a serious problem confronting our society. Some estimates put the rate of affliction at one child out of every 91 born. That's a diagnosis every 21 minutes. It's out of control. We have to do something. This is one way to help."

The auction will also promote the "Fishin' with a Mission" decal program that began in 2009, a program designed to promote autism awareness among the fishing public.

Bidding ends on December 3, 2009 at 17:56:57 PST. As of this posting, the highest bid stands at $405.

Ike's whiskers, mounted in a professional display case along with a signed Certificate of Authenticity will be shipped to the winning bidder free of charge. Your purchase may be tax deductible. Settlement can be made through PayPal.

For more information about Luke Delany, the auction or the Fishin' with a Mission decal program go to www.mylittlebuddysboat.com. For more information about the New England Center for Children and its programs, or autism in general, check out their Web site at www.necc.org.