Contrary to this absolutely gorgeous November day, the frozen offseason is coming. In fact it’s already here for some of us depending on how north you live. So what do we paddlers do to occupy ourselves? To continue our discussion on what to do while the water is frozen, I propose you go out and get involved with something to do some good. Volunteer somewhere, get involved in a charity or event, or even just visit or call a loved one you don’t see too often. It’ll distract yourself from not being able to paddle, but also make yourself feel better, and as an added bonus, because of the good you’re doing it’ll make taking a little time for yourself in the spring a little more justified. You’ll deserve it.
Growing for Charity
There are a few thing I involve myself in, but none is more fun than what I’ve done the last four years for Movember – the month formerly known as November. Have you heard of it? It’s become pretty popular of the last couple of years. Movember is a wold-wide initiative where men grow mustaches for the entire month to raise funds and awareness for men’s health – in particular prostate and testicular cancer. The idea is to remind men to get themselves checked out. It’s not a fun experience to check for these diseases – downright embarrassing and uncomfortable, really – but going through this will find these potentially fatal conditions early, when they can be perfectly preventable and treatable. In fact, this year I hooked up with a group of Canadian paddling companies for some Movember fun, but more on that later.
How does growing a mustache help the cause? Well, can you think of a more manly, uniquely masculine thing to do? I’m not talking about just growing facial hair, but sporting a particularly unpopular style of growth. Sure, mustaches fit certain people – Tom Selleck or Sam Elliott for example – but not others. It’s the social bravery that separates a man and a MO – a term used interchangeably to describe both the mustache, and the grower himself. The guys at Movember have made the mustache cool again – granted, perhaps only in November – and so by doing that, have made it easier to talk about men’s health and those embarrassing check ups. “Man up”, so to speak, and get it done, gentleman. If I can walk around all month with this thing on my face, not to mention the awkward period where the mustache isn’t growing as fast as you’d like.
When I first signed up, while I felt this was a truly great cause, admittedly I didn’t start doing this because I felt extraordinarily passionate about it. (In fact, Jen from Backcountry With The Kids wrote a great post reminding us not to forget about the true intent of Movember.) However, the more I read about men’s health issues, I became much more resolved. Movember, after all, is about awareness. I knew I was doing something good. Then a strange thing happened.
As my mustache grew, as I spoke to people about what I was doing, more and more people started to follow my progress. The initial snickers turned into morbid fascination, then genuine interest. Towards the end of my first month the “ha-ha”s turned into ad-a-boys. People spoke to me about what I was doing, several times talking specifically about those embarrassing examinations that we all have to go through. I don’t know how many times I heard “Yeah… I should make that appointment.” That, is Movember. Even more poignantly, I also started to speak with people affected by the very issues for which we were raising awareness. It seemed everyone I met had a relative, a friend, a friend of a friend or just someone they knew that suffered from prostate or testicular cancer. While not always the case, often the more tragic stories probably could have been prevented. All of these people I spoke to made me proud of my mustache, as silly and awful looking it may have been, and as embarrassing those examinations can be, we were all talking about it. As a great indication of how much Movember is working, and something I’m quite proud of, is just how many people ask me each October about whether or not I’ll be growing another mustache.
Of course I will. In fact this year when announcing my new ‘stache growth, I connected with a couple of others who were doing the same. Jim Walton, of H2O Performance Paddles was one, and had a great idea for a bunch of us paddlers to join forces and have some fun with it. When Swift Canoes, Badger Paddles, Parkbus, Dog Paddling Adventures and Backcountry With The Kids joined up, Mo Paddles took shape. Throughout the month, we’d post our own pictures and get others to do so as well. To sweeten the deal, we’d offer up prizes. To enter, you can post your own Movember photo, but you can also like, comment on or retweet anything Movember related on any of the participating facebook pages or twitter accounts (listed below).
We’ve been having a tonne of fun with it too. Between the six of us, we’ve been posting funny messages back and forth, commenting on each other MOs. (You can see my mustache progress here.) Jim along with Scott from Swift, are pretty funny guys, posting regularly on our progress. Fiona from Badger Paddles and Kathryn from Dog Paddle Adventures have each “volunteered” their husbands into growing a ‘stache, not being able to grow their own. Of special note is Jen, who also cannot grow her own, and so has offered up her son. While he’s a little young to be growing a proper MO, Jen has creatively figured out a way around that small problem.
Join in on the fun and visit all the pages! And if we entertained you at all, and you can spare it, please consider donating to the cause here: mobro.co/mopaddles. Oh, and don’t forget, guys: Get yourself checked out.
Not only great Canadian paddling companies, but great people too (Twitter handle, facebook page):
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