CEDAR RAPIDS — Nine-year-old Isaac Tominsky held his right forefinger above his lip, only lowering it to take sips of his soda, before it quickly darted back.
“I like it,” he said of the temporary mustache glued to his digit. “It’s a fake mustache and I won’t get to have a real one until I am 16.”
Isaac, along with his father, David, and about 20 others gathered Nov. 17 at Dublin City Pub in Cedar Rapids as a part of a Movember fundraiser.
Movember — which is a monthlong international movement to raise awareness and money to fund prostate and testicular cancer research through the growing or wearing of mustaches — has taken root in Cedar Rapids this year with two separate groups.
Last Saturday’s gathering — Football, Friends, & MO-staches — was an event created by two friends, Nate Holler and Ben Anderson, from a desire to grow their social spheres.
“We kind of came together and said, ‘We both are in the same boat. We want to meet new people and get connected, so why don’t we get an event together and get some people going?’” Anderson said.
Anderson stumbled upon the Movember movement and thought it would be the perfect catalyst for an event, while also providing an outlet to help those in need.
“We latched onto it,” Anderson said. “Our goal is to get some people together, have some fun growing some funky mustaches, and make some money for the J. Hayden Fry Center for Prostate Cancer Research.”
Their event raised more than $200.
“It is very important and gratifying to us that they are sending their money locally,” said Tori Erickson, executive director of development at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.
In addition to Holler and Anderson’s event, the Cedar Rapids Mo-Bros have sprouted and are raising funds through the sale of comical Movember shirts.
But for Chuck Cavanaugh, the leader of the Mo-Bros, growing a killer soup strainer that spurs conversation and creates awareness is equally as important as collecting donations.
“That is the cool thing about Movember, if you are a guy who is normally not wearing a stache or facial hair, it sparks curiosity from people around you,” he said. “That curiosity sparks a conversation, and the conversation brings awareness.”
Cavanaugh’s group is registered through a national website called Movember and Sons, which donates all collected funds to national groups like the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Livestrong Foundation.
As of Friday, their website had just more than $11 million in donations cataloged for the United States, and $69 million worldwide.
But for many who participated in Movember, growing a set of handlebars proved either physically or socially difficult.
“I am kind of facially haired challenged,” Holler said. “Usually if I go more than a few days my wife asks me what I am doing. I was trying to grow one, but seeing my progress and based on some more professional meetings I had this week, I decided I had to go with a fake [for the event].”
Holler’s decision to forgo the genuine facial hair is one that would frustrate Aaron Perlut, the chairman of the American Mustache Institute.
The institute was founded in 1965, and is focused on defending the rights of Americans who choose to live a mustached life.
“We believe it to be a civil liberty to appear the way you feel most comfortable,” Perlut said. “So when a company tells you that just because you have a beard or mustache you are deemed to not be professional, we find that completely inappropriate and has no impact on the professionalism of the American worker.”
And while Perlut said there is still social and professional discrimination with regards to facial hair growth, he said he is pleased with the progress the country as a whole has made toward accepting the mustachioed American man.
“A mustache is no different than any fashion accoutrement, which is why you have seen a cyclical popularity of mustaches,” Perlut said. “In 1970 every man in this country had three things: a perm, a turtleneck, and a mustache.”