Former Warrior athlete organizes event for a great cause

 In Sports

By Bruce Morgan

The facial hair which Nick Watt wears would probably be classified as a “business beard.”

Not too shaggy and not too long.

Just right, in fact, for the Warwick High School grad to enter one of the categories in a beard competition which will be conducted at the 2nd annual First Responders Night Out event this Friday, Nov. 10.

Benefiting the Beards for Brothers effort, it will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Lititz Springs Inn and Spa/Bulls Head Pub.

Beards, though, are just a small part of the festivities. DJ Reflex will be in the house with music, sports and entertainment memorabilia will be up for grabs in a silent auction, and an authentic World War II military tank ride will go to a winning bidder, courtesy of War Horse Garage in Lititz.

“It’s an event where everybody comes out and has a good time,” said Watt, the event organizer and a former Warrior football and track star who is now teaching and coaching in the Lebanon School District. “It’s a great cause.”

That cause is to support first responders and their families who have a cancer diagnosis.

For Watt, it’s one which hits close to home.

Roughly 10 years ago, his brother, Bill, an East Hempfield K-9 officer, learned that he had testicular cancer. In the wake of his battle, Bill, who has since beaten the disease, approached his chief asking if their department could grow beards in an effort to raise money for first responders and raise awareness for cancer.

Beards for Brothers was created in 2014 and has grown to include more than 20 police departments in Lancaster County, and through donations, they have combined to raise over $100,000. They also contribute to A Week Away Foundation, whose mission is to provide respite for those fighting a life-threatening illness.

“I’ve always wanted to do more,” Watt said. “All I’ve ever been able to do is buy a T-shirt. So we said, ‘Hey, let’s do this (First Responders Night Out) get-together.”

With the event still in its infancy, Watt is trying to spread the word. Growing the attendance is paramount.

At last year’s kickoff, the event brought out only 30-some people, and yet they managed to raise nearly $4,000.

With the ballroom at the Lititz Springs Inn and Spa able to accomodate 170-some people, Watt is excited about the possibilities.

“There’s a lot of stuff first responders do in our community that they don’t get enough credit for,” Watt said. “To have people come out and be able to give back to them and do something beneficial … I think it’s important.”

If you have a beard, of course, that’s great. But it’s not required. With the purchase of a $30 advance ticket (or $35 at the door), event-goers will get optional entry into the beard and mustache competition. Advance tickets are available at

Categories include best mustache, business beard, 4 to 6-inch beard, longest beard, and whiskerina (female/decorative beard).

“You’ll see them at big events where they get real crazy with it,” Watt said, “and they have the waxed mustaches all curled up and stuff. But this is just something fun. We want everyone to have fun with it.”

Fun will certainly be a theme when Lititz’s Oehme Bros. auction off rides in an authentic World War II tank. According to the War Horse Garage’s Facebook page, the Oehmes specialize in the preservation and restoration of WWII vehicles and equipment. Like Watt, Parke Oehme and his brothers are Warwick grads.

In addition to War Horse Garage, others supporting the cause are Zern’s Beverage of Manheim, 105.7 the X, Mama in Time-out, and the Bulls Head Pub.

Beyond that, Bartolo Enterprises will have the sports/entertainment memorabilia silent auction. Last year, a Jalen Hurts autographed helmet, Joe Montana autographed jersey and a ton of Philadelphia Eagles’ items were available.

“They had lots of cool stuff,” Watt said.

Lots of cool stuff for a cool event.

“We can fit 170-some people. If we do that, we’ll make $6,000 before anyone walks in the door,” Watt said. “That’s huge for those families … If it’s something we can do, I’m hoping to get into that five-figure range one day where I can make 10 grand for them. I think if we get enough people involved, we can do that every year and grow it from there.”

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