Tiny firefighters look to pluck Movember ranking from Toronto

·4 min read

Movember fundraising is a hair’s length away, and the Tiny Township Fire Department is brushing up to Toronto’s ranking with intent to whisk her from victory.

During a presentation to council during the committee of the whole meeting, Township of Tiny volunteer firefighter Samantha Barnett of Station 3 provided an overview of the event with requests for participation within the municipality.

“Movember is an annual event, and it’s the only charity that tackles men’s health on a global scale,” said Barnett. “It involves growing mustaches, moving for exercise, as well as hosting events. The purpose is to help men live longer, happier lives.”

A portmanteau of mustache and November, Movember began as a 2003 initiative in Australia and has since spawned into a month-long charity event held across 30 countries worldwide. While the traditional focus began with raising funds for testicular and prostate cancer research in its origin, mental health and suicide prevention awareness were also incorporated in its mission.

“My full time job is at Waypoint Centre,” Barnett explained to council. “Mental health is something that surrounds me, and if I can make a difference in someone’s life like encouraging them to seek help or get an exam, then I will be more than satisfied.

"Men’s health needs to be addressed, and it needs to be a topic everyday and not just for the month of November.”

Last year, the Tiny Township Fire Department raised $19,040 placing their efforts fifth in Canada through the involvement of both male and female participants, called Mo Bro’s and Mo Sista’s respectively.

“Over one-third of our firefighters were formally involved, with representatives from all five stations” said Barnett. “We achieved this with word of mouth with one partnership, and that was and still is Smokehouse in Balm Beach.

“This year we’re hoping to raise over $30,000 and we want to contend with much larger departments like Toronto Fire and Ottawa. We’re hoping to get over 50% of firefighter involvement this year within the township, and we’re hoping within this that we can educate the public and the community about Movember and what it’s all about,” Barnett explained.

Events are being planned with many local sponsors involved and items for sale to support the cause, with details to come.

Barnett stated that the relation between the men’s health campaign and the fire department’s involvement was to “raise money for research into many firefighter-related ailments including occupational cancers, PTSD and mental health research.”

When asked by Coun. Cindy Hastings as to what a Mo Sista can do being someone unable to grow a moustache, Barnett responded of her own personal goals.

“As a Mo Sista, last year I exercised,” said Barnett. “I set for myself a goal of 200 kilometres, and one of the goals was to bike 100 kilometres in one day which I was able to achieve. So just setting a goal for yourself for exercising or even hosting events also works. It helps get people to ask questions like ‘why are you biking so far’ or ‘why are you running so far’, ‘why are you hosting this event’. It’s a great topic starter.”

The discussion initiated its first challenge of the campaign, coming from CAO Robert Lamb.

“I’m actually happy to kick it off with a different style of challenge; that would be a $200 if our director of public works Tim Leitch, at the end of November, shaves off his mustache and goatee,” said Lamb with a grin.

The comment gave council and staff hefty laughter as Leitch quickly hovered hands over his long whiskers to defend their value. Mayor George Cornell uttered “harsh” in between laughs, and gave Leitch the opportunity to take time and consider the proposal, which Leitch gratefully accepted.

“Well done,” Cornell cheered. “That’s exactly the kind of creativity that’ll surpass our target, right Sam?”

“Absolutely,” responded Barnett.

The motion to assist with fundraising and social media promotion was carried 3-0, without Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma involved as per declaring a non-pecuniary disqualifying interest for the presentation.

Upon returning from council’s recess later in the meeting, Walma, who was a participant of last year’s Tiny Township Fire Department team and champion of the Movember cause, shared a laugh with Coun. Gibb Wishart.

“Gibb, I just wanted to add that I’m really excited to see you with a mustache. I don’t think I’ve seen that yet,” Walma admitted.

Wishart, a prostate cancer survivor, laughed hard. “I was growing mustaches when you were wearing short pants.”

To learn more on how to contribute to the Tiny Township Fire Department fundraising team, visit their pledge page on the Movember website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny township’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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