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For more information about O’Daly’s Movember events and how to participate, visit facebook.com/teamMODalys.
By Catherine Rainey, Contributing Writer
Beginning a conversation about something as serious as prostate cancer isn’t easy. Where do you begin? What questions do you ask? If you stop and think about it, though, it’s clear that men’s health needs to be talked about — especially such topics as testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. It’s never too late or too early to have an impact. Broaching these sensitive subjects is one reason The Movember Foundation exists.
The Movember Foundation began as an idea in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, with a couple of guys grabbing a pint together. This initial meeting sparked two realizations: Men’s health was in decline, and the moustache needed a comeback.
Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer awareness, they challenged each other to “grow a mo.” After 30 men joined, it became clear the cause was important, and a real organization could benefit men worldwide. Today, 21 countries participate, millions of moustaches have been grown and over $500 million has gone to men’s health programs to help fund breakthrough research and create meaningful shifts in conversations.
Matt LeMond, local team captain and manager of O’Daly’s Irish Pub in Mobile, began participating in the movement nine years ago.
“I started growing a mustache with a friend out of Pensacola,” he said. “We challenged each other to see who could raise the most money while also spreading the word about men’s health. I was the only person on the team that first year.”
Later, LeMond learned his grandfather had passed away from prostate cancer.
“I knew it was cancer, but not that it was a male-specific cancer. I was younger when he passed and remember the pain he went through during that time. Since then, that has been my motivation, along with mental health. In the U.S., 75 percent of suicides are men. We need to talk more,” LeMond said.
The goal is not only to spread awareness, but to hold fundraisers to benefit the cause. More than 76 percent of all raised money goes toward men’s health projects and partners. In the U.S. these include the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the Prevention Institute.
“I communicate with our incredible group of Mo’Bros and Mo’Sistas to encourage them with their fundraising through monthly events, social media challenges and awareness of men’s health issues,” LeMond said. “We are a group of 50 people that make up our Team MO’Daly’s. So far we have raised over $16,500 this year, with last year being our biggest year ever, in which we raised $36,000.”
This Friday, Nov. 16, a fundraising event will take place at B-Bob’s Downtown that is sure to turn heads: ‘Staches in Stilettos, organized by Danielle McWhorter Williams, a Mo’Sista.
“It all started because, as a woman, the last thing I want to do is grow an actual mustache; most of us do all things necessary to prevent this from happening,” Williams said. “So, since I wasn’t growing a mustache, I found it difficult to fundraise actual dollars. I could volunteer and raise awareness, but I wanted to do more.”
Her love of the TV series “RuPaul’s Drag Race” led to an idea.
“Our group of friends loves a reason for costume, and I knew our guys would be down. I saw a friend that works at B-Bob’s, and I pitched him the idea of teaming up for a drag mustache makeover for a fundraiser. He loved it, and he said ‘why not a mustached beauty pageant?’
“Fast forward to the amazing efforts of Jerry Ehlen, owner of B-Bob’s, Champagne Munroe and Zamareyah Dawn, the queens that have been with us since the beginning, and we are celebrating year four this Friday night!”
Other events this month include Mustaches and Mimosas at Cedar Street Social Club on Nov. 25 and the Movember Gala at O’Daly’s on Nov. 30.
Although these events should be a blast, it’s important to remember why they’re being held. Men aren’t always comfortable discussing their health and Movember wants to break down those walls.
“Unfortunately, I have had too many close friends that have suffered from a mental health issue which led to suicide,” LeMond said. “We are working hard to spread the word that it is OK to not be so tough and to share your feelings. One in four men suffer from mental health issues, and prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. If detected early it has a high percentage of [treatment] success.”
It’s not only men who are pushing for more awareness, as Williams admits. “There is definitely a social construct in place that teaches men that by reaching out for help — whether for physical health or mental health reasons — they are showing a kind of weakness or vulnerability. I think we combat it with opening up the dialogue. And by pairing the dialogue with the iconic masculine image of the mustache, we are able to break some of the stoicism and combat the idea that by being active in your health you are in someway being less masculine.”
If you’d like to grow a Mo in solidarity, or feel the urge to learn more about Movember, visit us.movember.com.