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Westmont firefighters mark 'Movember' with mustaches

WESTMONT – While the 31-day span of October is dedicated to the color pink and celebrating women, the month of November is all about men's health awareness.

This is why the Westmont Fire Department is putting on a fresh face – literally – according to firefighter Chris Gerlich.

On Nov. 1, the firefighters started their day with clean shaven faces in support of "Movember," a global charity promoting men's health through the growth of a mustache.

With the Movember season in full growth, the fire department decided to challenge the Hinsdale Fire Department to a mustache competition.

"It's just a fun little thing to encourage each other to do our best," Gerlich said. "With that, everyone is encouraged to grow a moustache no matter how ridiculous you look with it."

The competition is raising money for testicular and prostate cancer according to Gerlich. The winning department will receive a handmade trophy of sorts.

Gerlich, who has been with the department for six years, said the firemen will still need to follow some guidelines, including fitting in masks with their newly grown facial hair.

"It's not always about looking good, it's about doing what we can for people in need," Gerlich said. "I'm excited for people to question my appearance and wonder why I'm doing it." 

He said the Movember movement is an effective charity.

"You're asking guys to sacrifice a little of their pride and ego," Gerlich said. "If you were to be diagnosed, obviously you might feel like your pride is gone a bit."

Right now, the group has raised about $400, aiming for at least $1,000. The Hinsdale team, already at more than $500, hopes to shave one last mustache at the end of the competition.

If the Hinsdale Fire Department raises more than $5,000, Assistant Chief Tim McElroy has vowed to shave his 40-year-old soup strainer – a mustache he's had since high school.

"I think what's going to happen is [the fund] is going to get really big," McElroy said with reluctant enthusiasm.

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