By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Now at its half-way point, the Movember campaign organized by the Alnwick-Haldimand Fire Association is really hot stuff.
Organizer Mark Mitro shared the milestone Sunday on how the fundraising is going in this annual event, which calls on participants to grow moustaches for the month of November in honour of men’s-health issues, and enlist pledges in support of their efforts that will be donated to organizations that address these issues.
Just over 150 Canadian fire departments are fielding Movember teams, Mitro said, and the Alnwick-Halidmand Team is in second place nationwide.
The Toronto Fire Department, which raised $40,000 last year, is closing in on $18,000. But Alnwick-Haldimand is in second place with just over $14,000.
This is significant, Mitro pointed out, since the Toronto team has 68 members (compared to Alnwick-Halidmand’s 26), as well as so many more people to draw support from.
They have challenged all the other fire departments in Northumberland County to give it their all, and Mitro reports that Hamilton Township is hot on their heels and just $1,000 behind.
Part of that Northumberland challenge is that the team that comes out on top county-wide gets to choose the team that takes a dip at Wicklow Beach at month’s end.
Movember began 15 years ago to fight prostate cancer and testicular cancer. It got so much support that it became an annual event and its mandate grew to fight other issues men battle such as anxiety and PTSD. Now their motto is Changing The Face of Men’s Health.
“I was doing it in university 10 years ago,” Mitro recalled.
“It’s just a different fun fundraiser – it’s not a walk, it’s not a run. It’s just guys growing moustaches and bothering each other about it.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie. We razz each other over having the best one, we razz each other over having the worst one, and everything in between.”
And while the event gets huge buy-in from emergency-service workers like police officer, paramedics and fire fighters, he added, participants can come from any walk of life.
Rules call for participants to shave clean at midnight Oct. 31, and to let the moustache grow all month while collecting pledges for the cause.
Alnwick-Haldimand team members have spent the month soliciting this support, smart phones in hand with the app loaded and ready to go. They also share the link where people can donate and, if anyone wants to give cash, they accept it and send the donation along in that person’s name.
If this year’s effort seems to be something special, Mitro said, they have been inspired by a team member at Station 2 who is in remission from testicular cancer. Movember hits close to home for him this year, and he expressed his hope for a robust campaign by his comrades – which they pitched in to put together.
While their friend was recovering, he made two Adirondack chairs that he has donated for a raffle. Every donor who contributes by name (as opposed to anonymous donors) is eligible, Mitro said, and they get a ticket in the draw for every $20 they donate.
The Alnwick-Haldimand team is confident of claiming victory at Wicklow Beach. If not for COVID, the big swim might have been a community event, Mitro said, but they will have representation from every Northumberland fire department – along with some special guests.
“One of the heads of Movember called to say he wants to come down and put it on film,” Mitro reported.
The big swim will be recorded before participants shave off their moustaches, which will certainly add a colourful note to the proceedings. And once the photographer and film crew produce their record of the event, you can check it out on the Movember website.
Meanwhile, the Alnwick-Haldimand team continues working hard to come out ahead of Toronto, but Mitro stresses that the important thing is for everyone to support Movember through whatever team they choose – just visit the Movember site and take your pick.