Mustache Madness

Mustache Madness

Mustache Madness

Mustache Madness


Seeing the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team around campus leaves athletic trainer Rebecca Vozzo feeling like she stepped into some generational time warp.

“It’s a little different being able to see these guys walk around in their mustaches and trying to figure out if they belong in the 70’s or the 80’s,” she said, “but it’s really fun to see them.”

The facial hair throwback Vozzo witnesses is part of the Cavaliers’ “Mustache Madness” campaign to raise awareness and donations for prostate cancer. The fundraising effort started in Charlottesville, but has quickly spread to 16 other campuses.

“The lacrosse network…it’s just a tight knit community and people know people everywhere,” Vozzo said. “So they’ve all really kind of gotten each other to help out and get the awareness out there while also having fun growing their mustaches and looking…I guess just funny looking.”



The idea for Mustache Madness was birthed right in Vozzo’s office. Senior defenseman Ken Clausen and fifth-year transfer Todd Faiella were sitting in the training room, conjuring up fundraising ideas that could combine a worthy cause with competitively growing mustaches. Vozzo overheard the discussion and put forth the idea of prostate cancer as their focus.

The idea immediately struck a chord with Clausen. On a family vacation to Fiji last year, he met two men from Australia who noticed Clausen’s unique mustache tattoo on the inside of his index finger. Recognizing a fellow mustache enthusiast, the Aussies explained to Clausen “Movember,” a month long celebration of sorts in which men grow mustaches as part of a larger campaign to raise awareness for men’s health issues, like prostate and testicular cancer.

“It seems like the whole country in Australia takes part in it,” Clausen said.

Having the seed already planted in his mind, Vozzo’s recommendation of prostate cancer seemed to make perfect sense to Clausen and Faiella. With so many campaigns in both men’s and women’s sports focusing on women’s health issues like breast cancer, men’s health issues don’t seem to garner as much attention.

Men don’t talk about prostate cancer because men don’t like to talk about things going wrong in that part of the body, Vozzo said. Men generally don’t talk about and stay as concerned with health as women.

Yet prostate cancer is a more pervasive problem than many men might think. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the leading research group for the disease, a man is 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America. About one in six men will deal with the disease at some point in life.

With the average lacrosse team having roughly 40 players, that means about six or seven guys in each locker room will probably deal with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Hearing stats like that made the cause that much more immediate and poignant for guys like Clausen.

“I think we hear so much about breast cancer, and so many people do so many things about that, I think rarely do we hare about prostate cancer and big events being done for that,” Clausen said. “I think this is a way for all men to unite in a fun collective way and really make a difference in something.”

One of the first campuses Mustache Madness spread to was Quinnipiac in Connecticut. Last year, when Vozzo was an athletic trainer there, she helped the lacrosse team organize its own fundraiser for prostate cancer. The cause has a particular relevance to Vozzo; her father was diagnosed in October of 2006. After emergency surgery, he is now cancer-free, though still vigilant.

The Bobcats ran a year-long campaign called “Sticks and Stones to Conquer Prostate Cancer,” culminating on their last home game of the season against Notre Dame, explained Ted Dimond, a red-shirt junior attackman from Quinnipiac. The events raised more than $16,000.

When Vozzo reach out to her old team, they stepped up to the plate again.

“I liked the idea, and guys here liked the idea as well,” Dimond said. “It was obviously a little bit of a tough sell to have guys with a ton of facial hair, because some guys are trying to interview for jobs and make presentations. It’s getting close to Thanksgiving so people are going home. But everyone’s having fun with it.”

From there, Mustache Madness has spread quickly. Clausen and Dimond said guys on both teams are reaching out to friends on other rosters to encourage participation. Virginia’s junior goalie Adam Ghitelman started a Facebook group for the fundraiser that boasts more than 400 members, Clausen said. Players have then reached out to friends and family, welcoming anyone who wishes to donate and get involved.

“I think it’s far surpassed what we originally had expected or hoped for,” Clausen said. “Our expectations keep growing everyday.”

The original goal was for each team to raise about $1,000, or about $25 per-player, Clausen said, but they have already exceeded that mark. As of Nov. 23, Mustache Madness has raised $21,715, with Fans of Gettysburg lacrosse being the leading group, and Virginia junior John Haldy leading the individual donors, according to the fundraiser’s website.

“I think the competition between the teams has really helped ignite it,” Clausen said.

Between the fun of facial hair and the alarming statistics of prostate cancer, players have bought in with surprising zeal.

“Growing a mustache or having an excuse to have a stache for a month is just an awesome idea, and you throw in the fact that it’s for a great cause makes it even better,” said Gettysburg junior defenseman Thomas Barnett. “Also, growing a mustache beats running a 5k or something. It has become a contest amongst the team for best and worst ‘stache.”

It has become a contest amongst all teams as well. There will be two Mad Stache trophies awarded when the fundraiser ends on midnight, Nov. 30, according to the Mustache Madness website {}. One will be for the team that raises the most money overall. The other will be for best ‘stache.

The best mustache will be determined by votes in the comments under pictures posted on the Stache Gallery {}, and by two “expert judges,” explained Greta Rose, senior project manager for the Sportsgrants Foundation.

The Sportsgrants Foundation is the non-profit events organizing group that is running Mustache Madness, Rose said. They run the fundraiser’s website and also produce the trophies and prizes for the highest donor for each week.

When the contest ends on Nov. 30, the company will amass all the money into one large donation check that will be presented to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Rose said. By doing this, Sportsgrants can dictate how that money will be spent, allocating it specifically to research.

“When you donate $25, how do you know that money will go to research?” Rose said. “Sportsgrants believes in giving the small donor some power, and collectively we produce one large donor.”

The funds will be dedicated towards Prostate Cancer Foundation’s Young Investigator Award, Rose said, an annual endowment of $250,000 to promising young cancer researchers. Last year Rose said the foundation awarded eight such grants, all funded by donors.

But until the end of the month, fans and teams will race to gather as many donations as possible, and players will groom their whiskers with pride and enthusiasm, all chasing those coveted Mad Stache Trophies. Even those who walk away with no hardware will at least be more aware of men’s health issues.

“This is something that is so easy,” Clausen said. “I think it’s just hysterical, and it’s simple. You grow a mustache, and you get family and friends to help support a cause, and if they’re looking for a good reason to do it, I think there’s no better than this.

“Hopefully, ideally, I don’t see what’s stopping us from making this an annual event,” he added. “Hopefully, at some point, we have most of the lacrosse community cross-country taking part of this.”


Anyone wishing to participate and donate can do so here. You can earmark your donations to your favorite player or team, or if you are just a mustache enthusiast, you can select "Fans of Men’s Lacrosse Mustache Madness".

“We originally started it as a lacrosse thing because we thought that would be the best way to get the word out,” Clausen explained to me. “But bottom line, it’s not like we are going to turn down money. It’s all for one reason."

  To view pictures of participating teams and players and their illustrious ‘staches, check out the Stache Gallery
All photos used for this article were graciously provided by the participating players, teams, and universities.

For more information about prostate cancer and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, check out their site, here

For more information about the Sportsgrants Foundation, or for help with your own philanthropy efforts, check out

Editor’s Notes: While this idea may share some similarities with Movember, it is in no way officially affiliated. Both “moustache” and “mustache” are acceptable spellings.


Post A Comment To This Story >

    by (#227370) on 11/25/09 @5:48PM
In Australia we celebrate 'Mo'vember,(not sire if any countries do it too) which is basically the same thing, men grow mustaches though the month of November to raise awareness for prostate cancer, this seem strikingly similar.
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    by (#227370) on 11/25/09 @5:52PM
Should have read the whole article. it got too long and i got bored.
But its still a good cause, and it raises a lot of money over here
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