Dec 05, 2012

Movember Movement Will Continue to Support Livestrong

Dennis Hall, left, Sonny Johns and Jack Holt show off mustaches they grew in November to raise money for prostate cancer research. Photo by Natalie Krebs.

By Maria Rivera

For Reporting Texas

Movember, the global mustache movement that raises money to fight testicular and prostate cancer, will continue to give millions of dollars to Livestrong in spite of the scandal surrounding the charity’s founder, Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong, the former cycling champion, broke ties with the Austin-based charity he founded in 1997 after investigators concluded his seven Tour de France victories had been fueled by performance-enhancing drugs. Livestrong has raised more than $400 million for cancer prevention and treatment.

Last year Movember gave Livestrong around $4.5 million, according to Internal Revenue Service records, and has been supporting Livestrong for three years. That’s not going to change because of Armstrong’s troubles.

“We partnered with the Livestrong Foundation back in 2009 because they provide world class cancer support programs and, in our view, the best in the U.S.,” said Jason Hincks, Movember’s chief operating officer in the United States. “We will continue to help fund their Cancer Navigation Center, which provides free one-on-one services for men and their families affected by cancer.”

Movember began in a barroom discussion in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003. The charity was formed a year later and has since gone worldwide, raising almost $300 million for research and treatment of prostate cancer.

Last year the U.S. raised about $15 million during Movember, ranking it fourth among the 21 Movember countries. Canada pulled in the most cash, $42 million, in 2011, according to Movember records. Texas raised approximately $1 million and had more than 10,000 participants last year, about double the previous year’s figures.

About 15,000 Texans get prostate cancer each year, and more than 1,000 die from the disease, according to Texas Oncology statistics.

Austin, Dallas and Houston were among the top 18 U.S. cities in 2011 in terms of participants and dollars, said Tom Whiteside, Movember’s U.S. director for grassroots engagement. Donations stood at $12 million in mid-November, with more than 200,000 people participating as sponsors or participants so far. The contest was scheduled to end on Sunday.

In the U.S., the other major recipient of Movember money has been the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Prostate Cancer Foundation. It received $5.7 million in 2011, according to tax records. That foundation supported research at Harvard and MIT that successfully mapped the prostate cancer gene last year. The foundation reported that the discovery could reduce overtreatment of prostate cancer, saving up to $1.5 billion a year.

Movember started its own international activities in 2010 with projects intended to reduce duplication of cancer research and encourage data-sharing. Movember is also supporting several research projects focused on better diagnoses of prostate cancer.

Sonny Johns, a 45-year-old software salesman in Austin, has beaten testicular and lung cancer. Every November he gathers sponsors and grows facial hair for Movember. He and his team hoped to raise $10,000 this year.

“I really just want to be an inspiration to my [newborn] son,” Johns said. “I want to help other cancer patients so they don’t have to go through what I went through.”