No, the title of this article isn’t a misprint. That’s because for a growing number of men, the 11th month of the Gregorian calendar is Movember. Allow me to explain.
Movember is the name of an international fund-raising campaign to increase awareness about prostate cancer. The source for this odd moniker lies down under – literally. In Australia, the word “mo” is slang for moustache (that’s how Aussies spell the word). Throughout November, participants start the month clean-shaven and then grow moustaches to raise money for prostate cancer screenings and research.
The concept started in Australia in 2003 with five guys drinking beer (surprise!) and asking the question, “Whatever happened to the fashion trends of the 1980s – including moustaches?” This spawned a moustache-growing competition the following year that netted $5,000. In short order, the charity event went global. Last year, Movember campaigns in 14 countries raised an impressive $308 million.
2010 was Indiana’s first such campaign as about 900 participants raised pledges equalling $75,000. Last year, more than 2,000 “growers” statewide netted $125,000. Bryan Kendall is chairman of the Movember Indy Committee. “Movember is designed to break down the wall of stigma and shame that often surrounds prostate cancer. We want men to understand that it’s OK to talk about it,” explained Kendall, whose father-in-law is a prostate cancer survivor.
Participants sign up online (www.movember.com) where registrants have a unique web page for emailing prospective donors and securely processing credit card payments. Money is pledged in support of a participant’s decision to grow a ’stache. Prostate cancer survivors are encouraged to participate, and they receive a special participation packet. “One in six men will be diagnosed, and more men die from prostate cancer than women from breast cancer,” said Kendall. “It’s one of the most curable kinds of cancer when discovered early.”
Several corporate teams are participating including Angie’s List, IU School of Nursing, Sun King Brewing, and Flat 12 Bierwerks. “Many employers have lifted opposition to facial hair, especially for this charity event,” explained Kendall. “We like to think of it as our brown, fuzzy ribbon for men’s health.”
A couple hairy parties are planned for Movember. A Kick Off Shave-Off is slated for November 1 at Red’s Classic Barber Shop, 22 East Washington St., Downtown (shave the date!). An end-of-event party will be held at Tomlinson’s Tap Room, City Market, Downtown, November 30, 7 p.m. to midnight, with a raffle, auctions, and live entertainment. Admission is $10. “Every dime of the admission cost goes directly to the prostate cancer charity,” said Kendall. Movember Indy has paired with several local craft breweries who are donating beer for the fund raiser. As organizers like to say, they’re changing the face of men’s health, one Hoosier at a time!
Additional Information about the local Movember events is available at www.movemberindy.com, and at 317.709.0005.