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Mustaches go distance for prostate Add to ...

Gentlemen, start your mustaches. Start with a clean shave this morning. And see what kind of mustache you can grow by Nov. 30.

That's the challenge behind a month-long prostate cancer fundraising drive starting

today.

The brainchild of Australian Adam Garone, the mustache revival scheme, hatched over beers on a Sunday afternoon in 2003, has grown into a machine that has raised more than $8-million (Australian) or $7-million Canadian.

In Australia, the slang for mustache is "mo," and the group has rebranded this month "Movember" in Australia and New Zealand. This year, they've expanded to Spain and Britain and are running an official Canadian campaign for the first time. In previous years, some Canadians have joined on an ad-hoc basis and donated their contributions to local charities.

Early on, it was all about the prospect of one-upping your friends on the facial hair front with 70s-style mustaches - and celebrating with a wrap party populated by Hulk Hogan and Tom Selleck look-alikes. But Mr. Garone and his friends realized they could harness the fun for good

and align with men's health charities.

"We weren't philanthropists," the former marketing executive said on the phone from Los Angeles, where he is co-ordinating the U.S. Movember launch. He said none of the group's fathers had suffered prostate cancer, but they had noticed the success of breast cancer charities. "There was no significant event for men," the 36-year-old said.

Now, men who register their faces collect pledges, much like participants in charity walks or runs, and collect at the end of the month. Women can get involved as "Mo Sistas" by fundraising for their male friends and family. Proceeds raised in Canada will benefit the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men - one in eight Canadian men will be diagnosed in their lifetime, said Greg Sarney, vice-president of corporate development and marketing at the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation. The disease kills 4,300 Canadian men each year. By comparison, 5,300 women and 50 men will die from breast cancer each year.

But fundraising and awareness campaigns about prostate cancer lag far behind breast cancer campaigns, with their ubiquitous pink ribbons.

The mustache, then, is "our equivalent of our pink ribbon," Mr. Garone says.

 

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