Troy Murray grew his mustache every November for eight years.
What started as a fun challenge for the 31-year-old Vanguard Hockey team became a Movember personal move in 2010.
"He had created a mustache along with many of my friends and their teammates the previous year to have fun, but they did not really register or raise any funds, "Mayor of Toronto told Global News." I wanted to make up for it by educating myself and being a champion for Movember. "
Every November, men from all over the country participate in Movember, a charity campaign that encourages men to grow their mustaches to raise money for men's health. Focusing on prostate cancer in the past, Movember has become a campaign that covers all aspects of man's wellbeing, including the prevention of suicides and mental health.
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And charity can appeal to your target audience. Focused on social media and online fundraising, Mitch Hermansen, Movember Foundation development director, told the Global News campaign that it took $ 17.7 million in 2017. A total of $ 230 million was created for cancer of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and the prevention of suicides since the foundation began 11 years ago.
"Starting a conversation is important throughout the year. Asking someone how they are doing, verifying when they think someone could be struggling, and listening are essential to support the health of men," Hermansen said.
And there are reasons for people like Murray to the challenge.
"Sure it was fun at the beginning and fun to reintroduce the vintage mustache, but the team did the right moves to keep men [and women] interested in the campaign, "Murray said.
"Expansion of only prostate cancer to men's health as a whole, and adding the Move for Movember aspect, more and more people consider joining the movement or supporting the cause."
And because he was a participant for almost a decade, his Friends, family and colleagues support each year.
"Now as a new father, my health is more important than ever. I want to live forever for her."
Joe Rachert, program director of the Canadian Men's Health Foundation based in Vancouver, told Global News what he sees in campaigns like Movember or the ones he is based on, is creating something that resonates with men.
"The biggest thing is to present something in a friendly and competitive matter," he explained. "Young people do not mind being competitive. That's what makes Movember big. It's fun and attractive."
He added that if you want to create a campaign that gains impetus to men, you must accept masculinity positively. "Men really want to help each other if they are given the opportunity," he argued. Men also have to be open about their weaknesses.
"This is the side of masculinity that we need to see in society. It's good to talk about it. It's OK to say that" I do not feel good today. "
It also helps keep you humoured. Of course, dealing with all facets of men's health at one go is not easy, but something as simple as the growth of an awkward mustache to raise money can work.
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Anisa Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Giveffect, a Toronto-based donation platform, told Global News in 2014 campaigns such as Movember because it attracts a younger generation of men who are already attached to their devices.
Make men talk seriously about health
For Murray, social media campaigns make it easy to share stories or concerns online, often with strangers.
"I still think there is a stigma for men to talk about health, "he continued.I know that men are still too stubborn to go to the doctor if they feel ill. They tend to think, as a "man", they should only be able to fight for it by themselves. I hope that men continue to rethink the appearance of healthy masculinity and will continue to eliminate stigma. "
Rachert believed that we are just at the beginning of a cultural change of how men have seriously taken their own health. Several studies have found that men do not go to their doctors when they should or are not so interested in their own health.
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But Rachert said that we have a long way to go, and for men to take their health more seriously and be their own defenders, it will take time. "It's not a question [organizations] They are doing enough. It's a matter of "Can we start?"
This can also be reduced to generational change. Rachert said that most young men may agree that they look and treat their health in a very different way compared to their parents.
"Being healthy was not part of a man," he continued. "I was taught to have a full meal at the dinner table, it was well to have a bowl of beer and I did not have to exercise." He said that this notion is not always true for today's youth: he wants to be more involved with his health.
Keeping the momentum going
But as a new round month and whiskers are shaved, how can we keep the urge to talk about men's health going? Rachert said he starts with men to take initiative and continue to support local organizations throughout the year.
It even raises fundraisers to tell the men in your life that they go to the doctor, there are little things that people can do throughout the year.
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"There are five health behaviors that cause 70% of all chronic diseases," he said. This comes to smoking, drinking, eating well, exercising and sleeping. If you focus only on one of these behaviors and try to improve it, it will be beneficial on the road.
"Young people have to learn to lean on each other. We need to be a lot better with that."
– With files by Irene Ogrodnik
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.