Facial hair for a good cause: Mustaches for Kids kicks off Tuesday

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Adam Keen, who heads up Mustaches for Kids, shows off his progress during last year's campaign. The event, which kicks off this year on Tuesday, raises money for local children's charities. Photo courtesy Adam Keen.
Adam Keen, who heads up Mustaches for Kids, shows off his progress during last year’s campaign. The event, which kicks off this year on Tuesday, raises money for local children’s charities. Photo courtesy Adam Keen.

Tom Selleck had the right idea.

The iconic mustache may be outdated–at the very least ironic–these days, but at least once a year here in Wilmington, that manly patch above the upper lip is a valuable commodity.

Mustaches for Kids is gearing up for its tenth year of fuzzy fundraising. The local chapter of the national organization–which raises money for local children’s charities–will kick off this year’s campaign at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) with Shave Day at Fox and Hound.

The concept is simple–grow a moustache for a month and ask friends, family, co-workers and strangers for donations for doing so. The money raised goes to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern N.C., Brigade Boys and Girls Club, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Dreams of Wilmington and Hope from Helen.

“It’s something that’s so easy to do to help raise money,” Adam Keen, who heads up the event, said.

The Wilmington effort got underway almost accidentally when a couple of friends decided to wager on who could grow the best mustache. After a month, the winner collected his earnings but decided not to keep his friend’s money. Instead, he stuck it in a donation jar.

The friends–and a small group of others–then decided to make it an annual event and signed onto the national Mustaches for Kids, which started in 1999 in Los Angeles.

A decade later, the Wilmington endeavor annually garners support from nearly 200 “growers.” To date, it has raised approximately $250,000.

“It’s all local, so we can see the benefits. You know, we can give $1,000 to the Brigade Boys and Girls Club and see exactly what they do with it. We can take $1,000 into Dreams (of Wilmington) and see all their smiles. It’s a great feeling,” Keen noted.

Keen got involved with Mustaches for Kids four years ago. As Major Gifts Officer for UNC-Wilmington’s athletics department, he was a natural fundraiser, garnering historically high donations for the local chapter.

So, two years ago, he was appointed “Stache Master.”

Not only is Mustaches for Kids a good cause, Keen said it is also a lot of fun. After signing on to the cause, participants meet up each week at area restaurants so their progress can be photographed.

The fundraiser culminates in the Stache Bash–a raucous costume party complete with awards for “Saddest Stache,” among others – on Dec. 6 at Banks Channel.

And there are but few rules.

“No matter how great or how bad your mustache looks, it’s still a mustache…But we like to say, ‘Only grow from the corner of your lip up because stubble equals trouble.’ You have to keep your face shaven except for the mustache,” Keen said.

He said Mustaches for Kids attracts charitable gentlemen of all ages.

“The range is from 18 to 65. So, at our Stache Bash, you’ll see a high school senior beside a retired attorney,” Keen said.

This year’s participants include Hometown Wilmington Media’s general manager, Beau Gunn; Eric Parson, afternoon host on 98.3 The Penguin FM; and Bryan Keith, co-host of The Morning Disaster on 103.7 FM The Bone.

To get involved, show up on Shave Day sans facial hair. If you miss out on the kick-off, not to worry. Keen said you can join on at any time. To sign up, find out more about Mustaches for Kids or even make an online contribution visit the chapter’s website or like the group on Facebook.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.