Movember men grow mustaches for awareness

For a group of select men, it's almost that time of the year when they don't even get the "luxury of growing a goatee."

So says Brad Barton, who, along with the rest of Team Nuclear, will start things clean shaven Nov. 1 and grow out his mustache — and only a mustache — throughout the month.

The local team's facial-hair efforts are part of Movember, a combination of "mo" for mustache and November. The international initiative aims to raise funds and awareness for men's health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer.

The theory is that the mustaches — peculiar as they may be — make a good lead-in for conversations that turn to men's health, said "Coach" John Cornuke, Team Nuclear's leader and an Estancia High School alumnus.

"You disarm them with the reply if you're doing this for prostate cancer awareness," he said. "Next thing you know, you engage a 15-minute conversation."

Team Nuclear — a name that's a spinoff of Cornuke's — is in its third year. Skosh Monahan's, the Costa Mesa bar owned by City Councilman Gary Monahan, hosted the team's kickoff party Friday over beers while handing out Movember apparel.

Team Nuclear started with 12 guys the first year, then grew to 85 last year, Cornuke said.

"This year, we hope to get over 100 people on the team," said Jim Fitzpatrick, a Movember participant and director on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District's board.

The first year's fundraising goal was $10,000, but they raised $38,000. Last year, the goal was $60,000 and they got $98,000 — the third highest for an American Movember team and the eighth highest in the world, Cornuke said.

"The goal this year is $125,000, and I'm hoping we blow it through the roof on that," he said.

The team is organizing a few fundraising events, such as Mo Poker Night on Nov. 15, a bike ride and a golf tournament.

Barton, a Costa Mesa resident and third-year member of Team Nuclear, said the only "right way" to do Movember is to shave everything but that mustache.

"Day one, you've got nothing," he said. "Day two, you have to shave everything [else]. You go through that awkward period. Then on day four and five, it just looks absurd."

But while those first few years might have garnered awkward glances toward his face, things are different now, Barton said. "The awareness is such to a point that everyone is fully aware of what you're doing."

Cornuke summed up the effort as a group of friends getting together for a good cause.

Still, he admitted being "so uncomfortable, but that's what makes it so genuine to do it."

Twitter: @bradleyzint

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