Kappa Sigma grows ‘staches for charity
Dozens of the fraternity's brothers are ditching their razors in “Movember” to raise money for prostate cancer awareness and research.
For some college guys, skipping a day of shaving leads to the kind of facial hair that a woolly mammoth would envy. For others, it can take weeks to grow what might be confused for a caterpillar under the nose.
In the Kappa Sigma fraternity right now, you’re likely to see both groups, but that’s just fine for the organization’s 54 brothers taking part in “Movember.” The $13,000 they’ve raised for charity this month by sprouting moustaches is certainly worth all the admiration, jokes and – much to their surprise – random hands to the face from classmates who want to see what “’staches” really feel like.
“When you have a moustache, people come up to you all the time and say ‘sweet moustache!’” said Kappa Sigma president Andy Fargnoli, a junior entrepreneurship major from Scituate, Mass.
Money benefits the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the cancer research and awareness foundation organized by American cycling legend Lance Armstrong known for its ubiquitous yellow wristbands. Family, friends, neighbors and fellow students have answered the call for donations, with individual contributions ranging from $8 all the way into the hundreds.
Ultimately, the fraternity hopes to collect $20,000 by the week after Thanksgiving.
Started in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, “Movember” – the blend of “moustache” and “November” – has raised more than $174 million to date, according the Movember Foundation website. Now based in California, the foundation cites figures that raise the whiskers on any man’s cheek: In 2011, an estimated 240,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 33,000 will die from the disease.
“One thing we’re trying to change is the perception of (the Interfraternity Council) as a whole, the idea that it’s something that’s just there for drinking,” Fargnoli said. “It’s great to show that 50 guys can raise $13,000 for a cause with a goal of topping $20,000.”
This isn’t the first year Kappa Sigma has thrown away their blades for a few weeks. In 2010, led by now-senior political science major Jonathan Russell of Wellesley, Mass., a handful of guys created their own “No Shave November” with a “makeshift” website and limited success at fundraising, tallying just over $3,000.
When the brothers learned of the national program, Kappa Sigma hopped aboard. “It’s a lot easier to tell people you’re doing something that’s nationally known rather than do your own thing,” Russell said.
The fraternity keeps tabs on its project through smartphone applications that post a running total of pledges. And as it turns out, an Elon University junior leads the nation among college men who’ve registered for the program. Taggart McLain accounts for more than $2,100 of the fraternity’s overall total, Russell said.
Money aside, the camaraderie shared by Kappa Sigma brothers is what makes the project worthwhile.
“Most people in fraternities don’t grow mustaches,” said Elon sophomore Jeff Ouellette, the Movember team captain for Kappa Sigma. “Every day, hanging out with brothers with ridiculous ‘staches makes this so much fun.”