Montecito Fire Protection District employees are flaunting their facial hair during the second annual “Movember” charity contest to raise funds and educate the public about prostate cancer and other ailments that often afflict male firefighters.
The Montecito Firemen’s Association and Montecito Firemen’s Charitable Foundation are organizing the competition and seeking sponsors for individual contestants vying over the “Best Moustache” and “Most Pitiful Moustache” awards. The fundraiser required entrants to shave all facial hair on Oct. 31 and submit a photo of their freshly-trimmed faces on the association’s webpage.
According to Montecito Fire Protection District Administrative Assistant Geri Ventura, the event highlights the health risks firefighters face due to exposure to dangerous carcinogens.
“Statistics have shown that firefighters are twice as likely to get testicular cancer as non-firefighters,” Ventura said. “It is something that is inherent in the job of firefighting and a lot of firefighters are affected. It is in our family, it is a threat to the firefighting family and it is really a cause that we feel is important to educate and provide awareness of.”
The association will select a local community member to judge participants’ whiskers on Nov. 31 for the contest’s category winners. In addition to sponsoring individual competitors, individuals can make tax-deductible donations to the MFCF for the Prostate and Testicular Cancer Foundations.
Ventura said nearly all male firefighters — some of whom had not shaved in years — are participating to demonstrate their dedication to help support men’s health.
“Chief Hickman, who has had his moustache for 35 years, shaved his for the cause,” Ventura said. “He has been growing it since high school … That tells you the commitment that they are putting into spreading the word and getting attention for the cause. For these senior fire personnel to be willing to let it go for the cause is pretty cool.”
Men’s health and cancer issues do not receive a level of attention proportionate to their severity, according to Ventura.
“Our biggest message is the awareness and support for men’s health and the various cancers that affect men,” Ventura said. “It is something inherent in a firefighter’s exposure — the different things they are exposed to do advance the threat.”
Sponsors for the winning fireman in each category will enter a drawing at the end of the month for a free dinner and movie along with a tour of the Montecito Fire Dept. Station 1 for up to eight individuals. Additionally, the most generous sponsor — regardless of whether his or her contestant wins — will receive an eight-person dinner, station tour and free movie screening.
Visit www.montecitofirefighters.com to see pictures of the “Movember” moustache participants.