Back in the spring of 2002, I sat in our conference room with my friend Jason Parry, who at the time worked in the Brewers media relations department.
Let's start a charity, he suggested. Let's create one that gets OnMilwaukee.com in the news, I added.
And thus, Mustaches for Milwaukee was born, a two-year effort that ultimately, if I recall, raised almost $30,000 for the Child Abuse Prevention Fund.
That first year, 25 Milwaukeeans grew mustaches for 54 grueling days, raising pledge dollars for the CAP Fund. In 2003, we shortened it to a month. We held growing parties and got the event featured on TV, in radio and in print. I even met my future wife through the charity, a then reporter who interviewed me for a story on WTMJ radio.
So I have a soft spot in my heart for ridiculous mustaches and charity, which is why I was heartened to learn about Movember, a similar yet international charity that raises money for men's health causes. Their version of a mustache-growing event dates back to a few guys in Australia in 2003. I can't really say they ripped us off, because I myself got the idea from a group that was doing a mustache event in California.
But Movember is big-time now, having raised $42 million last year. While we had local celebrities like Jim Powell and Gene Mueller growing 'staches, Movember has secured Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher to don a "tickler," via a partnership with upscale men's brand, The Art of Shaving.
Me, I'm probably done growing a ridiculous mustache for a while -- though in my defense, I think I looked pretty good. But it's great that so many have taken up our cause and ran with it (even if they didn't know we gave it to them).
Movember is a cool charity, and I offer my kudos to every guy participating. Bring back the 'stache!
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.