Return of the beards

Every year, October is the month of all things pink: pink ribbons, pink yogurt lids and pink energy drinks. Even NFL teams wear pink.

Of course, this is all in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But when November comes around, the pink is replaced with beards for No Shave November.

UW-Eau Claire’s Colleges Against Cancer chapter is hoping to bring awareness to prostate and other cancers that are common in men with a No Shave November contest, Mr. November.

President of UW-Eau Claire’s Colleges Against Cancer, Simone Muller, who helped arrange the event, said No Shave November started as more than just an excuse for men to grow out their facial hair.

“I went to a leadership conference a few weeks ago and someone had mentioned that No Shave November actually started as a way to raise awareness about male cancers, such as prostate or testicular cancer,” she said.

The registration fee for the contest was $5, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

Muller said, like all other Colleges Against Cancer events, one of their goals is to educate people about cancer.

“We were talking about it as a group and we wanted people to know that there’s a real meaning behind No Shave November,” she said. “It’s not just ‘Hey, let’s grow out the beard for  a month.’”

Junior athletic training major Matt Elsing said he normally participates in No Shave

“Since high school, or since I could grow a beard, I started doing it,” he said. “By myself and with my friends.”

This year is the first time he’s getting involved in an event to raise money for cancer research.

“Well, it’s for a good cause and I kind of support all charities that go for cancer,” he said. “My grandpa passed away with cancer when I was younger.”

He said he thinks most men are aware that No Shave November is more than just an excuse for growing out their beards, especially as No Shave November is becoming more commercial.

Freshman biology education major Troy Wesley is also participating in Mr. November. He said he had planned to grow out his hair for No Shave November when a friend involved with Colleges Against Cancer told him about  the contest.

“I said, ‘it’s a good cause, it sounds fun, so why not,’” Wesley said. “It is an absolute problem, cancer, and it affects a lot of people and it seems like a noble cause.”

After Muller and Colleges Against Cancer were inspired at the leadership conference, they had about a week and a half to plan Mr. November. She said they were inspired in part by UW-La Crosse’s Colleges Against Cancer chapter, which hosts a mustache contest in November for prostate cancer.

Because this is the first year they are holding the event, Muller said they weren’t expecting too many people would sign up, but is hopeful the contest will be much bigger next year.

“I think it’s important that when people associate No Shave November they need to associate it with male cancers,” Muller said. “Then hopefully they’ll get to the doctor and raise more awareness about it.”

Muller said she’s not sure how Colleges Against Cancer will judge the winner of the contest yet. She said it could be judged in terms of length or bushiness.

“I guess we’ll see what the guys have at the end of the month and see what we constitute as best beard.”