Travis Garone and Luke Slattery — the two men from Melbourne, Australia who started Movember in 2003 on a whim — could not have known that by growing mustaches for one solid month that they were sounding the bell for men'shealth and prostate cancer awareness to the extent that its become.
The November-long event is a simple one, and based on a single premise. At October’s end, men sign up and pledge themselves to “starting clean” (shaving your face bare) in the name of men’s health awareness, and then growing and grooming a mustache throughout the ensuing month.
The idea is to get people – Mo’ Men or Mo’ Women – involved in your upper-lip growth, whether it’s by raising money or by raising awareness of prostate and testicular cancer and men’s mental health issues. At Movember’s end, tonsorial-appointed gentlemen and the ladies who love them meet to celebrate mustaches grown and awareness raised.
In Philadelphia, Movember started last Thursday with a shaving party at Frankford Hall — Stephen Starr’s beer-centric drinkery just as it has for the last three years — at the insistence of CJ and Michael Walsh.
The Newtown Square-raised brothers have been involved with Movember for five years with the “cancer-hating wrecking crew” Team I Hate Cancer as their focus.
“We are always looking for new and exciting ways to beat cancer,” says CJ Walsh. He’s not just looking for a laugh. “Look, my brother and I are lucky. We don’t have a good cancer story. We have relatives whose lives have been touched by the disease, but mainly we are inspired by the stories we’ve heard from good friends and survivors that we want to help.”
Walsh speaks of the fear that drives Movember in the place — how most adult men don’t go to a doctor unless something is dramatically and noticeably wrong.
“Women go to their gynecologists or the GP regularly for checkups. Men are not doing preventive screening – be it for cancer, heart disease or high blood pressure. We have to get ahead of these issues, even the mental health ones. It has to be OK for men to talk about their health, whether it’s with your golf buddy or your drinking pal.”
While Walsh stripped away 11 months of growth to start Movember clean (‘the more awkward of my new mustache looks, the more conversation starts aboutourhealthissues"), Frankford Hall GM Joshua Mann shaved off an agedfull beard, one he’s had since 1999, “much to the chagrin of my wife,” he said with a laugh.
Mann states that the large scale Frankford Hall – perfect for “weird, quirky charitable events such as Movember” – was full to its 400-plus capacity, the PhilliePhanatic included — lldedicated to a good cause.
AskMannjokingly if he minds that people got their annual Movember shave at Frankford Hall’s dining spot,and hesaid he haasn't heard from the health department.
"But for this great cause, I think we could ask for forgiveness.”
Facts about Movember
The Movember campaign has raised more than $559 million since 2003 in the United States alone ($22.9 million of that in 2013) with participating countries such as Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. following suit.