PORTLAND, Maine — It’s hard not to smile at the sight of Dr. Lou Jacobs’ moustache, curled upward like a circus strongman, or perhaps the famously styled baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers.
It’s an important jovial ice breaker, said the Portland chiropractor, because the issue he’s advocating for through his increasingly well-known facial hair is more somber.
Both of Jacobs’ parents died of cancer within a 14-month period.
“I get stopped out in public all the time,” Jacobs said of the reaction he gets from the curly moustache. “I love it. I want to talk to people about [cancer research and prevention], so if this is a way to get people engaged, as silly as it is, I’ll take it.”
Jacobs, whose second annual “ My Stache Fights Cancer” fundraiser kicks off on Sept. 24, said his moustache “stands out to people.” Plus, he became a local celebrity after a run of media coverage surrounding the first fundraiser last year.
But sadly, he said, his experience dealing with cancer and loss is not unique.
“Losing two parents is not uncommon,” he said. “Losing a sibling to cancer is not uncommon. My story is not that special, unfortunately. But people tell me, ‘It’s great that you’re turning something that bad into something good. … You’ve got to take the truth and do something with it.”
As part of his fundraiser, which lasts until Jan. 1, participants set up Web pages through www.mystachefightscancer.com and then seek donations as family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances follow their moustache growing and styling efforts.
All of the money raised through the program will be donated to the Cancer Community Support Center in South Portland and the Boston-based Campaign for Cancer Prevention.
Both groups are aligned with Jacobs’ mission, he said, which emphasizes support for cancer patients and their family members as a group, and the search for causes for the nationwide increases in cancer rates, respectively.
“From an environmental perspective, there are endless possibilities for why the problem has gotten worse,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs’ moustache-growing — or, for those men already bearing moustaches, shaving — fundraiser is one in a burgeoning field of facial hair-related benefits, including the Australian-launched “Movember” that also ties ‘stache growing to fundraising.
For his efforts, Jacobs is becoming a moustache-wearing star of sorts, as a 2010 finalist for the American Moustache Institute Robert Goulet Moustached American of the Year award. Magnum, P.I., watch out.
Jacobs said he didn’t know of the other moustache-based fundraisers when he launched his inaugural program last year, but said he understands the appeal.
“There has to be a fundraiser that doesn’t require men to run, walk, bicycle or participate in a triathlon,” he said. “There’s got to be something for the busy man who works long hours and doesn’t have time to train, but wants to raise money for a good cause.”