NEWS
01/15/2018 06:57 EST | Updated 01/15/2018 06:58 EST

Newfoundland Merb'y Calendar Raises $300K For Mental Health

"We presented ourselves in a very vulnerable way physically and emotionally, and showed the world that it's okay."

William Whelan is shown in this undated handout image at Beach Cove in Portugal Cove, N.L. near St. John's for the 2018 Merb'ys calendar.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Aubrey Dawe
William Whelan is shown in this undated handout image at Beach Cove in Portugal Cove, N.L. near St. John's for the 2018 Merb'ys calendar.

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A calendar of bearded, mermaid-tailed Newfoundlanders has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for mental health.

Last year, around 30 burly guys donned sparkly mermaid tails to pose as "merb'ys" — a portmanteau of "mermaid" and "b'y," a Newfoundland term meaning "boy" or "buddy."

The whimsically dressed models posed by the sea, at a barber shop and in a pumpkin patch for the 2018 calendar.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club said it would donate proceeds from their sales to a Newfoundland therapy service.

Organizer Hasan Hai tweeted a photo on Sunday of people rejoicing around a giant cheque for more than $300,000 made out to Spirit Horse NL, a service that builds mental health and life skills for children and adults as they ride and care for horses.

"Fins well-donned, me Merb'ys," tweeted Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O'Regan, who is the MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl.

We stepped outside of our own comfort zones, sometimes showing our lumps and our bumps.Hasan Hai

Before the grand total was revealed at an event Saturday night, Hai told the crowd that the project was intended to break down barriers and promote a broader definition of masculinity.

"We'd take our shirts off, and put some tails on," Hai said, according to a Facebook video of the event. "We stepped outside of our own comfort zones, sometimes showing our lumps and our bumps.

"We presented ourselves in a very vulnerable way physically and emotionally, and showed the world that it's okay."

He said the admittedly silly project went from an idea to a printed calendar in a little more than two months, and eventually became a global hit.

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