So a couple of Australian mates go into this pub for a few drinks – and then things get fuzzy.
Fuzzy as in reviving the manly art of the moustache, Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds style.
The two men challenged their friends into joining them and doing it for charity. Thirty guys became more than four million since 2003 when Movember sprouted in Melbourne’s Gypsy Bar.
The movement began with a focus on prostate cancer and, later, testicular cancer, both male exclusive diseases. Eventually, as Movember grew, so did its scope, including mental health as well as physical wellness.
Now the annual moustache-growing month, which last year raised $131.8 million (Canadian) worldwide, is a model of gamechanging fundraising – and it’s exclusively devoted to motivating men to look after themselves.
No coloured ribbons in this masculine effort. Its symbol is a hairy one.
“Our tagline is ‘Changing the face of men’s health,’” says Adam Garone, co-founder and CEO of Movember, from his home in Venice, Calif. “We use the growing of a moustache and the fun of that as a Trojan horse to get men engaged in their health.
“By virtue of getting men to change their appearance, they become walking, talking billboards for men’s health and they become knowledgeable about risks that they face. Because if you try to approach men directly about their health they will switch off.”
Last May, the Movember Foundation announced the Canadian Men’s Health and Wellbeing Innovation Challenge. On Monday, more than $1.5 million in awards were announced to grassroots projects across the country. They will work at, among other efforts, getting incarcerated aboriginal men to design and make toys for children in impoverished communities and launching a mobile socialization workshop for men in remote rural areas.
Several projects have been award in Toronto, including Dr. Mike Evans’ “Beer League Doctor.”
As the Saint Michael’s Hospital-based family physician puts it, “We know that traditional ways of getting at men and health are not very good so I think that we have to go where they are.”
That would explain what can only be described as guys’ locker room consult meets beer commercial approach to discussing everything from arthritis to alcoholism.
A concept like that is not surprising considering Evans’ compelling “educainment” videos on YouTube. There, he’s known as Dr. Mike – and he has scored more than 10 million views with his witty animated lectures on health.
“I play beer league hockey and a guy had a heart attack at one of our games,” says Evans, 50, adding he wasn’t present at the time. “He was young. It was out of the blue. He actually died right there.
“I ended up having so many members of my league email me and ask, ‘Am I going to die? And how do I use that defibrillator if Jimmy in the corner has a heart attack?’ Almost every time I am in the dressing room, somebody goes ‘I am having a colonoscopy’ and the other guys go, ‘Should I be having one?’ So we end up having all these conversations and we kind of hatched this idea of what we call Beer League Doctor.”
The initial target market will be Canada’s 800,000 Beer League hockey players – about 100,000 of whom are women – who play for fun, exercise and, of course, a few rounds after the game with a multimedia offense on men’s medical inertia.
“We will build a website that will be full of different sections that will initially help people be more injury resilient and treat more what I call sports med injuries and then we’ll move more into more men’s health and some women’s health,” Evans explains.
“So you will see me in a locker room and the other players will just Q & A me around embarrassing problems, hemorrhoids or heartburn or erectile dysfunction. We’ll have these impromptu conversations and it will be funny.”
Evans, whose background can best be described as peripatetic, started off as an English major who, after graduation, got into athletics and world travel. He even volunteered for a while with Mother Teresa and later started a business. It was after all that that he went to med school where he met his wife Sue, also a doctor. They have three teenage children who, as Evans laughs, have been awed by their father’s YouTube success.
“I constantly have a whole bunch of different projects going that keep pushing the envelope and I love it,” he says.
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