Handlebars to Handle Prostate Cancer

The Spectrum

Handlebar, Fu Manchu, Pencil, Walrus – whatever form it's in, the mustache is making a comeback.

Chris Balon, vice president of the Graduate Management Association (GMA), founded and decided to participate in "Movember," an international campaign to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and LIVESTRONG. Joined by approximately 20 other men in the GMA, the students have embarked on the mustache competition.

"Chris Balon just came to me and said, ‘what do you think of this? Is this cool?'" said Dana Szcepaniak, vice president of UB's charter of the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA). "So far we've raised almost $1,000 just by e-mailing faculty, e-mailing our relatives or [from personal donations]."

Although Movember itself is a campaign, the GMA and NAWMBA have transformed it into a competition. The NAWMBA judged the men based on best mustache, most ridiculous mustache, creepiest mustache, and most fundraised Tuesday at Huckle Buckets, located at 3047 Sheridan Drive. The winners won prizes such as a Moe's gift card, an official Movember Mustache trimmer, and a grooming kit.

The rules are simple: start clean-shaven on Nov. 1 and grow out the mustache for the entire month.

"The GMA is always looking for new ideas to give back to our community and and get involved with charitable causes," Balon said. "Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a mustache for 30 days and get donations in their support."

The campaign originated in 2003 as a joke to bring the mustache back among a group of friends in Melbourne, Australia. Although no money was raised that year, the "Mo Bros" were inspired by efforts to raise money for breast cancer and realized the potential that a mustache-growing campaign held.

Therefore, in 2004 the men focused on raising awareness for prostate cancer, the number one cancer affecting men. Four hundred thirty-two more men joined the cause and raised a total of $55,000 for the PCF of Australia.

From that year on, the competition has grown substantially. Now, Movember has a presence in the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands and Finland. Last year, 255,755 "Mo Bros" and "Mo Sistas" raised over $42 million for Movember's charitable partners around the world.

The PCF works toward finding better treatments and ultimately a cure for prostate cancer. As one of the most deadly cancers if not caught early, the need for enhanced options is of the utmost importance.

"Cancers that affect men are unfortunately not given as much publicity today, but are becoming more and more of an issue for men everywhere," Balon said. "[The competition] provided UB MBAs with a great opportunity to raise awareness and funds for cancers that affect men and have fun doing it."

Recently, PCF funded research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Arul Chinnaiyan M.D., Ph.D. and his colleagues identified the fusion of two unrelated genes unique to prostate cancer. Currently, the team is working to develop a system that would identify molecules that would inhibit such binding, which would slow or stop the progression of prostate cancer.

Due to the specificity of the gene, it would be a good target for cancer-killing therapies. The development of such treatments would be revolutionary in determining the best way to treat, and potentially cure, forms of prostate cancer.

In the U.S., Movember also funds LIVESTRONG, which is an organization founded by Lance Armstrong, one of the world's best cyclists, that provides support to young adults battling and surviving cancer.

To contribute to the cause, go to Movember.com and donate to the UB Mustache Society.

E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com