News

Close-up: The growth of a MOvement

To mark the last day of Movember, Capital News reporter Wade Paterson looks at Kelowna
To mark the last day of Movember, Capital News reporter Wade Paterson looks at Kelowna's participation in a fundraiser that has grown awareness, participation and hairs between men's noses and upper lips.
— image credit: Douglas Farrow/Contributor

Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds, Ned Flanders, the guy on a can of Pringles.

These icons of manhood have been celebrated and idolized over the past 30 days as razors have avoided the area between average men's noses and upper lips.

For an entire month, members of the male population have documented the work of their follicles with hopes of raising hairs, dollars and awareness for men's mental health and prostate cancer.

Kelowna Mounties, businessmen, politicians, bankers, entrepreneurs, high school students and professional hockey players are just some of the locals who participated in Movember 2012.

Some already have a fresh can of shaving cream sitting beside the sink as they wait anxiously for the calendar to flip. Others have spent a considerable amount of time looking in mirrors, asking themselves if this could be their new look.

Regardless of whether the image is appealing or not, about 250,000 Mo Bros throughout Canada are part of a movement that's taken off in recent years.

It's a movement that is—to borrow a famous Movember tagline–truly changing the face of men's health.

***

Travis Garone and Luke Slattery from Melbourne, Australia are largely responsible for the moustaches currently disguising millions of men across the globe.

According to the movember.com account of the founding fathers, the two lads conceived the Movember concept while sipping a pint and discussing recurring fashion trends in 2003.

Since then the movement has grown exponentially, with Canada taking a lead role in the fundraising effort.

"I think Canadians have really caught onto the campaign because it's a combination of fun and (raising money) for some great causes," says Pete Bombaci, national director of Movember Canada.

"Men's health has never really had priority on the charity front…but prostate cancer and men's mental health touch so many people in this country. People really want to stand up and do something good. They're growing moustaches and making an impact."

As of Thursday morning, Canada led all other nations with $30.3 million raised through movember.com. The United Kingdom led the way in terms of participants, with 360,000 registered on the site.

Movember is often solely associated with prostate cancer, but Canada has placed equal importance on men's mental health through this year's campaign.

Bombaci says most men find both health issues difficult to talk about.

"If we can begin talking and start removing some of the stigmas that come with these issues—that's the most powerful thing a moustache can do."

Kelowna Jaycees are aware of the impact their facial hair can have on the community.

The group of young professionals, ages 18 to 40, strives to positively impact the Kelowna area by providing businessmen development opportunities in leadership, social responsibility, entrepreneurship and fellowship.

"We've got 35 guys growing moustaches," says James Kay, treasurer of Kelowna Jaycees.

"It gets people's attention. We were able to leverage our contacts and connections and get people to open their wallets a little bit, laugh at us and say, 'Hey, if you can wear that for a month, I can throw $25 at the cause.'"

So far the group has brought in over $7,500; they're ranked 361 out of more than 23,000 fundraising teams throughout the country.

"This is the first year we really put the whole unit behind it…we're thrilled with the response."

Along with the focus of raising funds, Kay says the group of male professionals have also kept close tabs on each other's moustache growth.

"Some guys can grow a moustache in about eight hours. I'm one of the least productive 'staches.

"Three weeks in I looked like a 12-year-old boy, so I'm taking a good ribbing."

The amount raised will increase Friday evening as the group hosts the Jaycees' Movember Bash at Flashbacks Nite Club.

The $10 charge at the door will be put toward the Movember cause. Prizes will be given out for best moustaches and Plan B hairdressers will be shaving off upper lip hair at the end of the night.

"We'd like to think that's part of a normal Friday night and we can raise some serious funds from that event."

One man who may be having less fun Friday evening is local journalist Wayne Moore.

Moore recently wrote a first-person story, explaining the details of his challenge against Steve Francis from 103.9 The Juice.

The men are competing to see who can raise more money for a West Kelowna Warriors fundraiser that will benefit the Canadian Cancer Society.

The initial bet suggested the loser would have to shave his head at centre ice of Royal LePage Place during the third intermission of the Warriors game against the Vernon Vipers Friday.

But Moore decided to up the ante.

In his story, Moore says he will shave his head, win or lose, if donations surpass $750. If he hits the $1,000 mark, he has agreed to shave the moustache that has been with him for nearly 35 years.

With $1,100 currently raised on the website and cash donations yet to be added, the end of Moore's moustache streak is inevitable.

"People are donating, so what the heck, (I'll) give them a show," says Moore.

"My whole head is going to be cold. I'm going to look funny. I'm going to look strange.

"But it's for the cause—hair grows back."

Considering the history Moore has with his moustache, he says the opposite Movember approach probably takes "more guts" than the traditional practice of growing a 'stache for one month, but he admires the men who participated in Movember and the women who supported them.

Female supporters—also known as Mo Sistas—are a big part of what Movember is all about.

With the lockout keeping local NHL players off the rink, several wives of the athletes organized an event to get them back on the ice for a good cause.

The NHLPA Curl for Movember event brought out present and past hockey stars, along with their wives, who are currently residing in the Kelowna area.

Brent and Dayna Seabrook, Keaton and Lauren Ellerby, Jordin and Jen Tootoo, Luke and Jeska Schenn, Blake and Lacey Comeau, Wade and Danica Redden and Todd Simpson brought out the brooms last Saturday in support of men's health.

The public was invited to watch the event, get players' autographs, bid on silent auction items and donate to Movember.

Jock Tyre, general manager of Kelowna Curling Club, said about $5,000 was raised at the event.

"Considering it was short notice…I thought it went really well," says Tyre.

He adds the wives were an integral part of organizing the fundraiser.

"Getting the decorations organized, getting the silent auction organized—that was all the wives."

Although the players plan to be playing hockey for their respective teams next November, Tyre notes this event has opened the doors to other fundraising possibilities.

"Last summer we put ice in Kelowna for the first time in about 30 years. We're looking at doing some summer ice again and seeing if we can do another fundraiser of some kind in July when there might be even more players around."

Although Movember is a new concept for some, there are local veterans who have have been letting the hair below their noses grow freely during the eleventh month of the last few years.

Movember 2012 was the fourth season of growth for Adam Semeniuk.

"One of the reasons I started is that I had an uncle who was battling prostate cancer for about 16 years," says Semeniuk.

"Sadly, he succumbed to it and passed away about six months ago.

"But he's the reason that I do this."

Semeniuk is the captain of his team of co-workers: Stacheky and Hutch Squad. Currently they've raised over $1,200.

"Each year I grab 11 guys from the office and we create a fun Movember calendar—we sell that to raise extra donations. On top of it being a great cause, it's a lot of fun to do."

One of Semeniuk's favourite things about the Movember season is passing by other participants on the street, acknowledging their 'stache and feeling like "part of a club."

With the explosion of Canadian participation over the past few years, some might question whether that club has any more room to grow in this country.

For Bombaci, the answer is yes.

"It's not about reinventing the wheel—we're going to be about growing moustaches again next year," says Bombaci.

"I think it's about inviting more people from different walks of society into the campaign."

He says the 245,000 registered Canadians only represents a small piece of the pie.

"We're talking about two per cent of the male population; it really gives us a sense that we have so much (further) to go."

This weekend, as most men bid adieu to their moustaches, those behind the Movember cause will still be busy, tallying donations and preparing for next year's campaign.

"We communicate with the Mo Bros, Mo Sistas and those who donated money three or four times a year, letting them know what's happened with their money," says Bombaci.

"An important part of this campaign is making sure people understand their money is being invested in the very best research and programs supporting men."

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

 

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