The White Coat Mustache Challenge organized by Wayne State medical students raised $17,000 for the international Movember menís health campaign. Photo from Movember USA
Andrew Vollman, Class of 2013 M.D. candidate, started the Movember tradition at Wayne State four years ago.
A medical student-driven project has raised nearly $17,000 for men’s health research and programming, topping 2011 efforts by $2,000.
The “Movember” White Coat Mustache Challenge was held Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, mobilizing students and donors in 10 medical schools across the country. It was organized by medical students from the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
The Wayne State team was made up of 62 Movember “ambassadors” and raised $4,019 – the most of any team.
The 10 participating medical schools were Wayne State, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Duke University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Oakland University, University of Nebraska, New Jersey Medical School and University of Illinois at Peoria.
Fourth-year medical student Andrew Vollman, Class of 2013, brought the project to WSU four years ago in honor of his father, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago.
“What was most encouraging was that a lot of the schools that had brought the Movember campaign to their schools for the first time performed exceptionally well, raising over $2,000 in some cases, including Thomas Jefferson and Duke,” he said.
Vollman reminded participants that the driving force behind the contest was the cause it supported, and not the need to win.
“I am happy that Wayne finished first, but more importantly, I was happy that 10 medical schools participated in this event,” he said. “I stressed to our team as well as the ambassadors at every other medical school that the main focus is on raising money and awareness for this great cause and not on the competition factor.”
Movember is a national movement that supports prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Men are encouraged to grow mustaches throughout the month, turning themselves into walking conversation starters and collecting donations for charity.
The proceeds, collected by independent teams, benefit The Prostate Cancer Foundation and The LiveStrong Foundation. As of Dec. 4, $18.4 million has been raised in the United States this year, from 208,861 participants.
Ambassadors focused on encouraging small donations, a tactic successful for the Wayne State team and the overall competition goal.
“Being medical students and not having access to large amounts of money, recruiting multiple medical schools can and did increase our impact through every student or member of a community contributing a little,” Vollman said. “I would like to thank all the schools’ ambassadors and every participating school's communities for helping make this event grow and be more successful every year.”
He’s also grateful to the people Movember supports. “I would like thank all the people who have prostate cancer/testicular cancer for battling these diseases and being strong,” he added.
Vollman is passing the Movember baton to other team members to continue the tradition in 2013, including Class of 2015 student Arjun Gowda. The second-year Movember ambassador recruited team members, built relationships with student organizations and raised money and awareness, Vollman said.