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FFs Grow Fu Manchus to Raise Awareness, Funds for Cancer Research

FFs Grow Fu Manchus to Raise Awareness, Funds for Cancer Research

Santa Cruz Sentinal

October 31, 2010

SANTA CRUZ — About 20 “Mo Bros” at Fire Station 2 in Felton have been deep in thought over the last couple weeks, pondering the types of mustaches they’ll grow during the month of “Movember.”

“Movember” — a combination of “Mo,” an Australian slang term for mustache, and November — is a month-long event aimed at putting a face, so to speak, on prostate and testicular cancers, as well as raise funds for research.

It’s a simple concept: Start out clean-shaven on Nov. 1 and grow mustaches for the next 30 days.

Aaron Whiting, a volunteer firefighter who’s helping to organize the station, said the Branciforte Volunteer Firefighter Association will provide a $500 match to any funds raised through the event.

Only five or six firefighters participated last year, but Movember has special meaning this year: The father of one of the volunteers died from prostate cancer in September, Whiting explained.

“I think everyone definitely is going to be participating more than normal because it’s kind of a tribute to his father as well,” said Nick Hanna, another volunteer. “What he went through, it just gave all of us more of an awareness of the situation, and I think it hit more at home.”

Movember started in Australia in 2003, when some men gathered over some beers and discussed bringing moustaches back into vogue, while at the same time raising awareness about men’s health issues.

The idea started out as a joke, and no money was raised that year. But in 2004, more than 400 “Mo Bros” in Australia participated, raising the equivalent of $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia in the process, according to

The idea has spread to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. In the United States, funds are donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Lance Armstrong Foundation.

In 2009, about 255,700 participants around the world raised $42 million for the cause.

Over the last couple of weeks, Whiting, Hanna and the other volunteers have been sending e-mails to everyone on their contact lists, as well as firefighters at other stations to get more men involved.

“The biggest thing is what you’re growing on your lip,” Whiting added. “You’re walking around [and people ask], What’s going on?’ Obviously random people aren’t going to just come up to you, it’s usually friends or family, and it’s kind of the conversation starter because a mustache isn’t really a common thing on young adults. Especially ones that can’t grow one very well.”

Much like the pink ribbons that symbolize Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, organizers say, the mustaches symbolize prostate cancer. Women who support the men, and help by raising funds, are known as “Mo Sistas.”

The American Mustache Institute — founded in the mid-1960s to promote the growth, care and culture of the mustache, and to fight discrimination against men who have them — lists about a dozen different moustache styles that men can sport, from the pencil and walrus to the handlebar and fu manchu.