Why I Grow: My Movember Journey
Most of my friends know I'm a committed MoBro, having been involved with the Movember charity for the past three years. If you're not familiar with Movember, it's a global effort where guys (MoBros) grow moustaches for the month of November to raise funds and awareness for men's health issues. Women (MoSistas) play a key role as well, by supporting MoBros and helping to raise funds and awareness themselves.
In the United States, the primary beneficiaries of Movember are the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LiveStrong. Last year 854,000+ MoBros and MoSistas around the world raised over $126MM USD. It's a tremendous organization, with a strong global grassroots effort to change the face of men's health. You can learn more about Movember here.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been plugging Movember through social media as we’ve been building our team, Big Kahunas Ascot Society. I’ve been asked why Movember is so important to me a few times, so I wanted to share my story to provide insight into what motivated me to join Movember.
This is my Movember journey...
For me it started in 2009. I was running global recruiting at Ticketmaster and learned of a moustache-growing charity called Movember. Our IT team in Australia was the first to bring Movember to Ticketmaster. The next year it spread to our UK office, before jumping across the pond to our IT team in the US. I thought the idea was great and introduced it to the entire company (like the founders, I also thought it would be a great “hall pass” which would allow me to try out a moustache (Mo) for the first time). Our global team raised over $4,000 that year in 2009. I willed my Mo to grow into a respectable 'traditional' stache (only after my dreams of an amazing trucker Mo were crushed by bad genes). I felt proud of what we accomplished.
A dear friend of mine lost her father to prostate cancer in 2008. This was the first time someone close to me was directly impacted by cancer, and it gave this disease a face for me. Up until that point in my life cancer had not touched me personally. Sure, I knew people who knew people who had loved ones battling disease. I lost my mother to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) almost a decade earlier, so I knew the struggle that families face. Before my friend’s father passed, cancer to me was a faceless foe. That soon changed and became even more personal.
In 2010, I learned my father (who we affectionately called Big Kahuna) was diagnosed with lung cancer, which then spread to his pancreas. The prognosis was bleak. He was always the strongest man I knew, and now he was also the bravest. He fought. He fought hard. Cancer ravaged his body, but it didn’t sap his spirit. He stood up to cancer and beat it for as long as he could, until he could no more. My father lost his battle with cancer and passed away in August of 2010. His loss shook me to my core. It made the fight against cancer deeply personal, and hardened my resolve to keep fighting until we find a cure.
My dad was a dapper man who was never afraid to wear an ascot – and he wore it well. In 2010, I started a Movember team, Big Kahunas Ascot Society, in his memory. We’re a team of dedicated Mo Bros & Sistas who have raised more than $16,000 over the past two years. Some members are long-time friends, some are newer friends I’ve connected with recently, and others are people I’ve never met. Like many Movemberists, we all have our Big Kahuna. Our reason to grow.
So, why do I grow? I grow for everyone out there who has lost loved ones to cancer. I grow for all the brave men and women out there battling the disease, and for all of those who love them and keep their hopes and spirits up. I grow for YOUR Big Kahuna. I grow because if I do, maybe someone out there won't have to go through what millions have - losing a loved one to this awful disease. I grow, because I can't not grow, and I won't stop growing until we have a cure. That is how I honor my father’s memory. That is why I grow.
If you see a moustache on the street or in your office next month give them a hat tip – as they are supporting Big Kahunas all over the world. If you'd like to support the Big Kahuna’s Ascot Society’s efforts and help Movember take the fight to cancer, you can join us, or donate.