Heavy is the lip that wears the mustache, and I’ve heard it all over the past few weeks: Why do you have that hideous mustache? Is that thing real? Why would you do that to your face? I guess he never, ever plans on meeting a nice girl. Tom Selleck called and said the Magnum P.I. look went out in the early ’80s. I didn’t know you were a Civil War veteran. Are you going to a costume party dressed as Hulk Hogan, Billy D. Williams, Grover Cleveland, Mahatma Gandhi, Salvatore Dali, or, well, use your imagination.
Nevertheless, during mustache season, I welcome the jeers at my expense. But at least adults snicker when you are out of earshot; little kids will just point and laugh at you. In this case, however, laughter may well be the best medicine that we can muster — we are Mustaches for Kids.
Mustaches For Kids is a national, volunteer-run organization. Each year, participants, or “growers,” raise money by growing mustaches. They shave their faces — except for the ’stache — a minimum of one time per week and solicit donations from friends, family, co-workers, and people in the community.
The Long Island Chapter of Mustaches For Kids, based out of Long Beach, has started its sixth growing season this year. Over the past five years, our chapter has raised more than $195,000 for the Pediatric Cancer Care Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The season began with a “shave day” on Sept. 28 at Sutton Place, where participants had their pictures taken and received pins that read, “Ask me about my mustache” to aid in the fundraising effort.
Nearly 100 ’staches strong, we make a repugnant spectacle of our upper lips representing the children at Sloan-Kettering. Each year, we canvass the streets of Long Beach, commandeering the facial real estate of community-minded gentlemen. From those mugs spring the hairs of benevolence, but not without your help. Please, allow me a moment to explain.
Cancer knows no gender, no color, no religion, and does not care about your political beliefs. And sadly, it does not care about the age of its victims. At the Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Cancer Care Center, children receiving treatment for cancer never had an opportunity to experience the facets of life and childhood that most of us take for granted.