Each November, men spanning the globe gladly toss their razors and tuck away their shaving cream. No longer is it common to see a population of barefaced gents parading the streets as men are inspired to channel their inner Tom Selleck. Women have not only grown to accept a fury lip, but to wholeheartedly embrace it. November – or Movember as we now aptly call it – is a time when men take to growing their mo for an increasingly important cause.
Originally founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2003, Movember raises vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives. The global movement has inspired more than 1.9 million people to participate with formal campaigns. In 2011, over 854,000 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world got on board, raising $125.7 million CAD.
I sat down with Justin Hull, participating Mo Bro and founding member of the MOfficials, to discuss his team’s involvement. The group is comprised of linesmen and referees from the Western Hockey League who have joined forces in an effort to raise $47,700. Their goal matches the number of Canadian men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and 2012.
How long have you and the MOfficials been participating in Movember?
In Movember of 2010 we decided to throw a team together kind of on a whim. The Movember movement had been gaining tremendous momentum and I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to unite the staff and raise some money. In our roles on the ice, we are happiest when we are unheard; when people don’t notice us. But for a cause like this, I felt we could finally have a voice and use our profiles to increase awareness to the issue of prostate cancer.
What inspired you to get involved?
I lost two grandparents to cancer. I have taken the approach of wanting cancer to be gone, no matter what type it is. Each year I have dedicated my campaign to someone close to me that has been afflicted with cancer. In my role with The MOfficials, I have worked to help educate our guys and our Twitter followers on some of the staggering numbers of this disease.
Before the Movember campaign began, men’s cancers weren’t talked about that much. In many ways, awareness can be equally as effective as the fundraising as it opens men’s eyes to the risk factors and educates them on the steps they can take to prevent the onset of the disease.
I noticed other teams within the Canadian Hockey League have surfaced with campaigns of their own. Would you say mo fever is spreading among the hockey community?
The MOfficials have spread the fever! Last year, the CHL head office created a Movember Trophy which all member clubs competed for. We captured the title and were presented the award during a pre-game ceremony before a Vancouver Giants game. We were able to take the trophy home and allow any MOfficial to spend a day with it. It travelled far and wide and is now back safe in Toronto.
The CHL has been a huge champion of this cause and we are stoked to be competing for the title again this season. Last year, 39 teams within the CHL network raised $128,000, with The MOfficials accounting for $31,000 of that.
Appreciating there is a certain level of friendly competition that occurs, do any internal competitions emerge between fellow MOfficials?
By nature, we are an incredibly competitive group of guys. I find that as the month marches on, the internal competition usually comes in the form of the quality of the ‘stache each guy is rocking. Some guys are blessed with exceptional mos, others not so much. And if you are not blessed, you will hear about it! I find that the competition really exists with bettering our efforts from last season.
I know our guys constantly keep an eye on our national ranking. As of today, we are 13th in the country of teams with more than 10 members. Our guys take a particular amount of pride in the fact that we’re one of the top non-corporate teams in Canada in terms of dollars raised.
Handlebar, Fu Manchu, Chevron (made famous by Mr. Selleck) — which mo style do you prefer?
Every Movember, the Director of Officiating for the WHL (my boss) calls me “Magnum” in reference to Tom Selleck’s character from the show Magnum PI. So I own my “Chevron” and revel in the props that I get from that look.
If you could put forth a challenge to your fellow officiants in other leagues, what would it be?
We were hoping that after seeing our success over the first two years that the competitive juices of the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League officials would get them eager to challenge us. But as far as I know, there has been no response.
A great group of officials from the Ottawa area have been very supportive of our cause. We have been in touch with them and are very supportive of each other. But next year, we want the rest of the guys out east to put together a group and give us a run for our money.
Where can people get behind you to show their support for the MOfficials?
The MOfficials will be out in full force this month throughout Vancouver. We are planning an event in late Movember at Forum on Granville Street. We would love for people to come out and catch a glimpse of some upper lip sweaters and learn more about what we do on and off the ice. Many of the WHL Vancouver area MOfficials will be in attendance.
People can also head over to the Movember website and make a team donation. What a great opportunity to make amends to all the refs you’ve hurled abuse over the years!
Follow the MOfficials on Twitter for team news and updates on their progress. Visit http://ca.movember.com/ to find out how you can get involved or start your own campaign.
Also published in the Huffington Post.