11/10/16

Have you noticed an uptick in men with bristles above their lips? It’s no accident. November is also Movember. It’s a time when women tolerate their men’s stubble in the interest of raising awareness and funds for men’s health.

Men would rather think or talk about anything but the most personal aspects of their health. But inspired by the Australian-borne moustache movement, more are braving taboo topics, as well as evaluating their lifestyles.

What’s It All About?

In 2003, two mates were having a beer and conversation in Australia when they decided to bring moustaches back into style. While they were at it, they’d raise awareness about men’s health. Their movement got traction. By 2007 Movember had spread to more than 20 countries. Staches, it seems, are good conversation starters.

Since it’s inception Movember Foundation has funded more than 1,000 men’s health programs as part of a plan to connect researchers and clinicians worldwide to improve outcomes for men living with prostate and testicular cancers. Mental health and suicide have been added to the mission.

In the month of November friends and co-workers form teams, sometimes bound by a common experience or loss. Take Mitch Rapp and the Killer Moustaches, for example. The name derives from the indomitable protagonist in Minnesota author Vince Flynn’s novels. The team formed in 2011, a year after Flynn was diagnosed with Stage III prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer that afflicts men. Though many are treated successfully, 35 men die from prostate cancer every hour. Most men are diagnosed in their sixties. Flynn was just 44 when he learned that the pain he attributed to old football injuries was much more serious.

Killer Moustaches

Flynn, a St. Paul native, was going through radiation treatment when he reached out to his buddies in an email reflecting both his philanthropic nature and his good humor. Buddies and brothers responded with enthusiasm.

“Many of you have secretly yearned to grow a mustache over the years but have not done  for fear of getting a lot of crap. You now have cover. Tom Tracy has been kind enough to register a team for Movember.

 Movember is a charity devoted to raising funds and awareness for prostate cancer by having men grow a mustache during the month of November. Check out the link below and if you’re either brave or foolish enough to grow a stache, great. We will be holding a happy hour at the end of the month to see how everyone did. If a mustache is not possible (and I can think of at least one Irish friend to whom this would be a monumental challenge), then please consider a donation.”

Tom Tracy, Flynn’s best bud, took the helm and assembled a team. Before long Flynn’s buddies were spotted with bristle above their lips. A tradition was born.

In the past five years Mitch Rapp and the Killer Moustaches have raised more than $100,000. Though the participants fluctuate, the commitment and purpose are unremitting: to keep other men from dying too young.

Mitch Rapp and the Killer Moustaches is not an exclusive group, though. Dennis Gould, a charter member, says the team welcomes others, be they friends, family, or fans.

Invincible

Flynn was a tough guy with an optimistic nature. He fought his cancer bravely – but privately. That he’d lose the battle was unfathomable. His death in June 2013 came as a shock to many.

“We though he was invincible,” says Gould, adding, “Vince was my inspiration. I hope that I can pass that inspiration on to my boys.” This month Gould is growing another stache, along with two sons who shared his respect and affection for Flynn.

Mo Sistas and Mo Bros

No woman wants to grow a stache but some may want to support men’s health. So Mo Sistas host events or sign up to take “the move challenge.” Working together, more than 5 million Mo Sistas and Mo Bros have raised in excess of $700 million since 2003.

The movement continues to grow. As to the Killer Moustache Crew, one thing is clear. Unlike the staches. which will vanish at the end of the month, Flynn’s cronies will continue the tradition to honor the man whose signature line was “Keep the Faith.”