Meet the Mustache Aficionados who Raised $268,000 for Charity by Ditching Their Razors 14

Facial Hair for a Good Cause with Mustache for Kids

Inspired by the National Mustaches for Kids chapters in California and NYC, two Richmond-area philanthropists grew their first charitable mustaches in 2003. They started the Richmond Mustache for Kids Richmond, Inc., a volunteer-run organization founded with the goal of raising money for local children’s charities through the art of the ‘stache.

Mustache for Kids Richmond’s hundreds of participants collectively have raised more than $1 million for children’s charities such as The Children’s Hospital Foundation, Greater Richmond SCAN, ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation and Feedmore. In 2017, the organization’s 15th year, the group of 150 growers raised more than $268,000.

We talked with Ben Keefer about his work with Mustache for Kids, how he got involved and his personal ‘stache inspiration.

How did you get involved with Mustache for Kids?

I got involved in 2010 after several years supporting many of my friends that were involved. It was a great group of guys having a bunch of fun and doing great things for the community. I have a young family, so it was easy to get behind the cause of raising money to support local children and families in need. I was also drawn to the social aspects of the organization. I have established a lot of great relationships over the years, and every year I look forward to spending time with everyone during November—no matter how ridiculous we look.

How does the mustache-growing work?

Here’s how it works: Each year, during the four-week growing season spanning November and December, growers sprout sweet, sweet mustaches. Per Mustaches for Kids bylaws, they shave their faces, except for the mustache, a minimum of one time per week and solicit donations from friends, family, co-workers and people in the community—kind of like getting pledges to run a marathon without the exertion, cramping or dehydration. Call it a month-long facial hair marathon.

At the end of the growing season, the growers hold a mustache competition called the ‘Stache Bash, which is a cross between a beauty pageant, dog show and police lineup. During the competition, hrowers, often in mustache-enhancing costumes, are put through a test of mind, body, and mustache and allow their facial hair to be evaluated by an independent panel of judges, and one mustache is declared to be the “sweetest.”

Who is Mustache for Kids raising money for this year, and when is ‘Stache Bash 2018?

This will be our 16th year and promises to be the biggest and best year yet. The growing season kicks off at Vasen Brewery on Thursday, Nov. 1. There are weekly check-ins on Wednesdays during the entire month of November at local breweries like Midnight, The Answer, Three Notched and Final Gravity. This is a great opportunity to meet other growers, mingle with our charities and have a little fun. The season wraps up at the ‘Stache Bash on Friday, Nov. 30 at Triple Crossing Fulton with food and a live band. This year we will be raising money to again support The Children’s Hospital Foundation, Greater Richmond SCAN, ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, Feedmore, Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, FRIENDS Association for Children and others.

How can people get involved?

Everyone is welcome. Just bring $20, a clean-shaven face and a desire to have fun and raise money for a good cause to our kickoff event at Vasen Brewery on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. For the $20 you will get a personal fundraising webpage, our 2018 M4K Richmond T-shirt and a month’s worth of goodies and fun. You can also register online at M4KRichmond.org.

If you can’t or sadly do not want to grow a mustache, financial donations and sponsorships are always welcome. Last year our corporate sponsors more than covered our modest administrative expenses allowing 100 percent of the $268,000-plus our growers raised to go to our benefiting charities.

Why do you think this cause is important?

Children do not get to choose their situation. They do not get to choose their families, their health or where their next meal is coming from. Our charities are out there every day doing the hard work to make the lives better for children across Richmond. I am honored and humbled to be able to help in any way I can…and fortunate that I get to have a great time while I do it!

Who is your ‘stache icon, and what kind of ‘stache do you aspire to?

I have been inspired by a couple of mustached icons over the years, including Tom Selleck, Super Mario and Rickie Fowler, but I aspire to be like my father, Doug Keefer, who sported a sweet mustache back in the 1980s, participates and supports me every growing season and is one of the kindest and most generous people I know.

Give back with facial hair for a good cause, or support your local growers at ‘Stache Bache 2018 on Nov. 1 at Vasen Brewery. To learn more, visit M4KRichmond.org.