Black Mountain Software Grows Hair to Grow Awareness

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During Black Mountain Software's second annual Movember Challenge, employees grew mo's (moustaches) and beards to augment awareness and grow donations for major men’s health concerns, such as prostate and testicular cancer.

Judge analyzing the beard of BMS Movember participant Bob Nice.

Bob Nice's facial hair is scrutinized under a magnifying lens during Movember judging at Black Mountain Software.

Office mo' bros and mo' sistas really came through for us.

In Montana, and more specifically at Black Mountain Software in Polson and Helena, the arrival of winter weather and the proliferation of men’s facial hair growth has long been correlated. But in recent years mo’ (moustache) and beard growth during the month of November has taken on a meaning beyond warmth. The cultural phenomena known as Movember and No Shave November are now often the driving force – meaning you might want to give the next hairy man you pass on the street a high-five and thank him for raising awareness for men’s health issues. During Movember, moustaches become walking, talking billboards that spark conversation and fundraising for major men’s health concerns such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health.

Employees at Black Mountain, a municipal accounting software firm, joined the Movember campaign for the first time last year. On November 21, 2014, they once again gathered to strut their scruff at the company’s second annual Movember Challenge celebration. A group shave at the Black Mountain offices on Friday, October 31, had preceded the event and started participants off on equal footing in the friendly competition. Progress was monitored weekly, with hair growth photos and grooming tips shared frequently. Coworkers noticed that some participants developed new habits during the No Shave month, such as stroking their chins as they spoke, twisting ends of moustaches, and gently scratching a face that was beginning to feel very itchy.

Donations were collected in participants’ moustache-adorned piggy banks and via the Hairy Nerd Herd team’s website page at the American Cancer Society’s No Shave November online donation site. “Office mo’ bros and mo’ sistas really came through for us,” stated David “Scruffy” Morton. “Nearly every day someone would stop by my desk and drop their spare change or a buck or two in my piggy bank.” Sometimes those donations were in an effort to bribe participants to do something for them or to thank them for help they had provided on the job, but mostly they were simply to show support of coworkers and the Movember cause. When online and cash donations are tallied at both Black Mountain Software offices at the end of the month, the company expects they will have raised $500 for the American Cancer Society.

“Most of us know someone who has heard the words "You have cancer," commented Stacy "Griz" Violett, who led Movember efforts at BMS’s Polson office. “Data on the Movember website indicates that one out of two men will hear those words in their own lifetime, and yet men are reluctant to talk about their health issues and 25% less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year. This project really is as much about growing awareness as it is about growing hair.”

Armed with rulers, tweezers, fine tooth combs, and magnifying glasses, guest judges Dr. John Williams of St. Luke Community Health Care and Shauna Rubel of Glacier Bank adjudicated the contest last Friday. The award for Best Facial Hair Growth went to Violett for the second consecutive year. Morton took home the Ernest Hemingway Award, in a nod to the dominate color of his beard.

Additional awards presented included:
Mindy “Duck Dynasty” Corrigan – Mo’ It Girl Award
Bob “Baby Face” Nice – Thinsulate Award
Pete “Burly” Bishop – Chewbacca Award and Most Money Raised
Steve “Prickly” Pittenger – The Viking Award
Nathan “Wisker-A-Go-Go” Erye – Mo’ Cool Award
Tim "He Tried" Mielke - Squeezably Soft Award
James "Game Over" Meissner - Desert Storm Award
Mark "Pre-release" Phillips - Wild Beard Award
Davin "Blonde Bombshell" Blixt - Featherlite Award

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Darlis Smith
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