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F.C. High Wears Bristles with Pride for Charity

Staff and students at Falls Church High School have raised more than $800 for men’s health charities through an unusual challenge: Growing a moustache from scratch during November. For the whole of the month, participants agreed not to shave their upper lip and face the consequences. The sponsored challenge saw them become part of the global “Movember” campaign in which men all over the world allow the hair on their upper lips to sprout unchecked.

The Movember movement began in Melbourne, Australia, but is now all over the world with 1.1 million volunteers taking part. Last year’s furry fundraiser brought in $7.5 million, bringing the total raised to $174 million. All funds go to three charities: One Movember fund dedicated to the broad range of men’s health issues; the Prostate Cancer Foundation; and Livestrong, the Lance Armstrong foundation, supporting all those fighting cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, with an estimated 240,000 cases diagnosed each year, of which 33,000 are killed by the disease. One in six men will receive the diagnosis.

Social studies teacher Luke Rosa initiated the campaign at Falls Church High School, which soon drew in 12 staff members, and then eight students, with some students pestering their teachers until they joined in the fun.

“We have teachers from departments across the school,” Rosa said. “In recent years, we have done a lot in October to raise awareness for breast cancer charities with ‘Pink’ campaigns. Last year was the first time I heard about the new Movember campaign, and a few of us had a go.”

Rosa admits that he ended up shaving his new moustache off around Thanksgiving in 2010 when taking part in last year’s fundraiser.

“I thought, ‘I just can’t stand this anymore,’ he said. “But when it came back around this year, I mentioned it to the students and they loved it. They thought it was hysterical, and a lot of the guys really wanted to participate. They really caught on to the tone of it, being light-hearted, making fun of ourselves for a good cause. It’s a great conversation starter to raise awareness.”

Rosa says the Falls Church Movember team was not aiming for any specific style of ‘stache, although some did like the idea of ending up with a luxuriant “biker” or “cavalry” handlebar moustache. None went for the slick “pencil” variety. Rosa said that this year he told his students that he was tempted by the prospect of growing a “Magnum, P.I.” moustache, in deference to TV’s hirsute Hawaiian heartthrob.

For their charity appeal, the Falls Church High School staff and student team soldiered on with their cookie dusters despite the maddening itches and good-natured teasing to raise money and awareness for the men’s health campaign. Rosa says that the competition at Falls Church High School was very friendly.

The only rule was that those taking part, the “Mo Bros,” merely had to show a clean-shaven upper lip on Nov. 1 and raise as much money as possible for the charity via donations.

Despite the high public stakes, though, he said no one checked to see if devious methods were being used to supercharge the follicles of the developing whiskers.
“We have a pretty honest staff,” Rosa said. “I don’t think anyone was secretly using extra hair tonic or Rogaine!”

Donations to the Falls Church High School Movember team can still be made at mobro.co/FCHS.