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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – With the month of November at an end, many mustachioed Bay Area residents are shaving off their facial hair — all grown in the name of promoting men’s health issues.
The rapidly growing charity movement, known as Movember, encourages men to grow mustaches to increase awareness about men’s cancers and other health issues.
Money raised by the hirsute participants, who pledge to not shave during the month of November, goes toward initiatives to fight testicular and prostate cancer through the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG Foundation.
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Berkeley resident Mniska Lamb, 32, has been sporting upper lip hair for the past month in honor of his father who died of cancer two years ago.
The capoeira dance teacher and part-time construction worker put together a team of 13 men that has raised about $1,200 for his first official Movember fundraiser.
Thirty days later, he said, “It’s been a rough month … I’m done getting dirty looks.”
Despite the glances from strangers, Lamb said he feels his mustache has helped spread awareness about cancer.
“I try to explain it any chance that I can get,” he said. The campaign pushed him to research the prevalence of prostate and testicular cancer and showed him the generosity of his community.
“I’m really amazed by my community’s support,” Lamb said.
Chris Michaels (pictured above), of Redwood City, encouraged five men from his San Carlos church to participate in the month of facial hair growth after a fellow parishioner died of cancer four months ago.
Michaels, a PR consultant who turned 31 today, said the team raised $100 in memory of their friend.
“It was timely to bring this to the forefront and make men’s health more of an issue,” he said.
Michaels said he usually sports a goatee, but the addition of a handlebar mustache has been somewhat startling to friends and family this past month.
“It looks kind of ridiculous on me and I know it,” he said. “But I’m happy to tell people this is what I’m doing.”
Today on his birthday and the last day of the month-long fundraiser, Michaels is treating himself to a barbershop visit for an overdue straight-razor shave.
More than $63,000 has been raised by Pat Patterson’s Movember team at the San Francisco-based company Salesforce.com, where he works.
Patterson, 44, who lives in San Jose with his wife and 8- and 10-year-old sons, contributed $435 to his 208-member team.
He likened his mustache to the pink ribbons ubiquitous in breast cancer awareness efforts.
“It certainly starts a conversation … when I show up somewhere with this mustache,” he said.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Patterson has noticed the Movember movement gain popularity in Europe over the years and then make its way to America.
“I got swept up in the momentum,” he said. This is his first year participating in the fundraiser. However, he said he is eagerly awaiting a shave Saturday morning. “It’s been fun but I won’t miss it terribly,” he said.
Plus, he said his wife and sons aren’t too keen on his furry face that is usually clean-shaven.
As Patterson noted, the Movember movement has gone global, with more than 854,000 people participating worldwide who raised $126.3 million in 2011, according to the charity’s website. The month-long awareness campaign got its start in Australia in the early 2000s.
In San Francisco, a group of Bay Area men participating in Movember will shave their mustaches Saturday morning at Peoples Barber and Shop at 1259 Polk St. after an 11 a.m. bike ride and parade showing off the ‘staches in the Polk Gulch neighborhood.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)