Hair Ye, Hair Ye … Movember is here

So, what exactly am I growing for charity?

Find out below in today’s Wisch List column from the Kankakee Daily Journal

Hair Ye, Hair Ye … Movember is here


Mov. 7, 2009

Today, your calendar reads November 7.

But mine doesn’t.

Nope, that’s because, this year, I’m celebrating the month of Movember, instead, as I work to change the face of men’s health.

By changing my own.

With a mustache.

(Yeah, yeah, go ahead and chuckle. I’m man enough to take it. After all, my upper lip tells me so.)

For myself, a team of 15 guys in the office where I work, and a bunch of other men throughout Chicago (not to mention, the globe), the month of November is currently nothing but a mere nemory, er … memory.

We’ve opted to instead embrace Movember, an annual charity event where men begin November clean-shaven, but then make like Mike Ditka and spend 30 days growing a mustache (no beards or goatees allowed) to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate and testicular cancers.

Think of Movember in the way you think of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The only difference is that instead of wearing pink ribbons as a symbol for their cause, men wear whiskers.

“I call it our hairy ribbon,” Adam Garone, the co-founder and chief executive of the Movember Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week in a story about this (quite literally) hair-brained idea.

As for the Movember movement, it was conjured up six years ago when Garone and a few pals were tipping back beers in their native Australia and joking about 1980s fashion.

Fueled by a little bit of booze – and whole a lot of testosterone – Garone’s group decided on a lark that it was high time to bring the mustache back. Shortly after growing out their Mo’s (Australian slang for mustache), however, the guys realized their new Tom Selleck-styled looks could be used for a higher calling.

It was a way to help stereotypically reticent men start talking about health issues – in particular, prostate cancer, which affects 1 in 6 males during their lifetimes.

“It’s as big an issue as breast cancer, but there’s a significant gap in the level of funding and awareness,” Garone said. “And I firmly put that down to the fact that we, as men, are apathetic about our health, and just don’t want to talk about it.”

To date, the Movember Foundation has raised $47 million globally to fund prostrate cancer, making it the world’s largest charity event for men. But it was only in 2007 that the movement first reached the shores of the U.S. – and the upper lips of American men.

In that first year, 2,000 U.S. participants raised $600,000. In 2008, 7,000 American “mo bros” (and their supporting “mo sistas”) raised $1.1 million for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. And now, for the first time, the funds raised through Movember will be split between the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, whose namesake famously battled testicular cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer for 18- to 35-year-olds. Movember is capped off with a series of parties around the country. Chicago’s is slated for Dec. 4.

Based on the success that Movember has seen in Australia, Garone says he hopes that in the U.S. the “hairy ribbon” of men’s health can reach the mass cultural awareness that breast cancer’s pink ribbon enjoys within three or four years.

I’ll be doing my part to spread the word.

One whisker at a time.

Although, to ease our way into Movember, my team instituted a one-week buffer during which we’ve been allowed to grow out full beards. Come Monday, however, only the ’stache is allowed.

I do have to admit that I’m a bit nervous about launching my own Movember reign. As far as facial hair goes (or grows), while I’ve had sideburns since I was a senior in college, I’ve never had a beard – and certainly not a mustache.

But, really, that’s the whole idea.

Because, as Garone explains, when it’s someone who doesn’t normally have a mustache, that person becomes a walking billboard and “We want them to go home at Thanksgiving and have a dinner conversation; ask their dads and uncles if they’ve been screened for prostate cancer.”

Already this week, one of my Chicago friends taking part in Movember said he caught himself humming the theme song to “Magnum, P.I.”

“Wow,” he said. “This is going to be a long month.”

Yeah. But at least it’s for a good cause.

And, who knows, by the end of it, maybe I’ll be wearing a Detroit Tigers cap and looking to move to Hawaii. Just like Magnum, himself.

Then again, maybe I’ll be looking for a razor, instead.

Either way, it should be interesting.

Help make my Mo worthwhile. Click here and make a donation today to join the fight against prostrate and testicular cancers. All donations — and mustache grooming tips — are much appreciated.

Examining the Beard before the Mo.
Examining the Beard before the Mo.

  • Jeff Tatro

    Way to go Dave “Rollie Fingers” Wischnowsky!