A hairy good cause: Syracuse company takes opportunity to grow some ‘staches for brave young boy

In 335 Hinds Hall, the headquarters of Sidearm Sports, nearly every person in the room who is able to grow a mustache has one.

“Last year we did Movember and we raised eight or nine thousand dollars. We had clients around the country join us so we had about a hundred collegiate sports information directors join us,” said Jeff Rubin, School of Information Studies professor, and CEO and president of Sidearm Sports, a company that creates sports management software for collegiate athletics.

Movember is a charity event that takes place throughout the month of November, where participants grow mustaches to raise awareness about men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

This year, Sidearm Sports is participating in Mustaches for Change to honor Rex Fleming, the son of Lance Fleming, who is the assistant director of athletics for media relations at Abilene Christian University — one of Sidearm’s clients.

Two years ago, Rex Fleming was diagnosed with brain cancer. Toward the end of last October, the Fleming family’s worst fear came true. Rex’s treatment wasn’t working and doctors predicted Rex only had about four to six weeks left.

“Instead of putting the money towards Movember, let’s put it all towards a scholarship fund or towards a charity of the Flemings’ choice,” Rubin explained.

Rubin saw this as Sidearm’s way of supporting another member of the Sidearm family, which includes almost 500 athletics clients from all over the country.

At 10 years old, Rex Fleming lost his battle to cancer on Nov. 25. Rubin, who has two young children of his own, wanted to show his support for the Flemings during this tragic period of loss.

After hearing the devastating news, Rubin wrote a blog post remembering Rex. This blog post was then posted on the website for College Sports Information Directors of America, an organization that Rubin and Lance Fleming are both a part of.

“I always think of collegiate athletics as one large extended family. And like a large family, many of us look forward to seeing each other at CoSIDA or one of the other national conventions,” Rubin wrote in his letter. “However, it is in times of need that families often times show their strength and prove that they are there for one another. This is one of those times.”

Not too long after Rubin’s letter was posted, the athletic community stepped in to show their support. Donations made to Mustaches for Change more than tripled within two days.

“I think what you’re seeing is a lot of the community really coming together for a good cause,” Rubin said.

Rubin expects that the amount of donations will increase even more as the end of the month approaches. Sidearm will also be matching the total amount in donations that Mustache for Change manages to raise at the end of the month.

For some people, participating in this event is more than just supporting a good cause.

“I lost three grandparents to various kinds of cancers,” says Joe Flateau, a web developer at Sidearm. “It’s a good way to support people who are going through this.”

Rubin explained how Mustaches for Change is more than just about raising money, and how most people do not realize how clever this approach in using facial hair to raise awareness really is.

The website also hosts a contest every week that covers various themes. The themes include school spirit stache, most famous stache, Thanksgiving stache and the best overall stache. For each contest, visitors use their Facebook accounts to vote for their favorite stache. Winners are able to receive prizes in the form of gift cards. The grand prizewinner for the best overall stache will win an iPad mini.

Mustaches for Change also found a way to include female members who want to show their support for the cause.

Sidearm has found a way to allow ladies to participate by printing mustaches off the website, cutting them out and taking a picture each week with them. The ladies even get a prize for participating and showing support.

“We include the ladies as well. We kind of did that in a unique way,” Rubin said.

After visiting the website and choosing a “mow grower,” as Rubin called them, one can choose a charity to sponsor and amount to donate.

Said Rubin: “It’s supposed to be embarrassing. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable. And that’s the whole point. You’re talking about it. You’re talking about Movember. You’re talking about cancer awareness. You’re talking about Rex Fleming.”


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