For Joe Gardiner, looking silly for a month, as he describes it, was well worth having an icebreaker to get people to talk about cancer awareness.
“When you put in all into perspective, it’s just for fun and you’re making a difference. Who cares if you look silly?” he said.
Gardiner, 25, is part of a group of 15 Cal Poly graduate students pursuing master’s degrees in business administration who grew mustaches last month to raise money for prostate cancer groups.
By Monday, the guys were itchin’ for a shave.
“I’m not sure I’ll go to class today and find someone who said, ‘I just couldn’t part with it,’” group member Jessica Warter said with a laugh Monday morning.
Women made up about half of the fundraising group. They toyed with the idea of wearing fake mustaches to strike up conversation. In the end, the gals supported the guys by spreading the word in their own ways, Warter said.
The students’ fundraiser is a part of the Movember MBA Challenge, an international campaign that encourages men to grow their mustaches out in November each year to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. The challenge lets the Cal Poly group compete against schools such as Harvard and Georgetown to see who can raise the most money.
Last year, the nonprofit Movember campaign in the United States raised more than $15 million for organizations such as the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong.
The experience has been touching for Gardiner, who first encouraged his classmates to participate.
“Those who really got into it -- it was a transformation,” he said, adding that soon everyone was talking about men’s health, which caused a chain reaction among friends wanting to get involved.
“Once you get over the initial ‘This is funny’ (part), you see that this is a serious thing and hits close to home,” Gardiner said.
Warter was also surprised at how the discussions began to blossom.
Having everyone go home for Thanksgiving really helped the campaign, he said.
The guys were “like a talking bulletin board for the cause, which is cool,” Warter said.
As of Monday, the group had raised just over $1,000. Donations are still being collected through Dec. 9 online at www.movember.com. Enter “Cal Poly MBA” in the search bar and then scroll to the team section.