WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Township of West Orange and its local Team Mo’ Wo will once again participate in Movember, the global movement where men grow mustaches to help raise funds to battle various men’s physical and mental health diseases, beginning with a kickoff fundraiser at the Essex House in West Orange on Friday.

Over the past four years, Team Mo’ Wo has raised approximately $30,000, all of which has gone toward saving the lives of brothers, fathers, and friends around the world. On Friday at 7:30 p.m., the entire community is invited to help jump start fundraising this year with a tricky-tray-style raffle featuring various prizes from local businesses, service providers and more for $30 per person.

Although this fundraiser is different from past years, where the team has gotten together on Nov. 1 for a “clean-shave” event, Team Mo’ Wo is looking forward to an evening of music, dancing, food and learning about the initiative amongst friends both old and new.

Sign Up for E-News

“We already have a lot of momentum and a lot of people talking about it,” said team captain Perry Bashkoff. “It’s also another opportunity to bring the community together and show how diverse but close we can be. I can’t tell you how many new friends I’ve made here in West Orange just from doing this event.”

Bashkoff, a four-year “Mo Bro” whose motivation is his boys, his grandfather, his father-in-law, his brother, himself and his friend, Michael Terry, was happy to announce this year’s Movember theme: “stop men dying young.” He also announced that Hair Port on Pleasant Valley Way is the official barber for this initiative, offering a free “touch up” shave to anyone participating in the movement throughout the month.

With the ultimate goal of raising money and awareness to save men’s lives, Bashkoff said the team hopes to attract more and more people each year that will become more comfortable talking about men’s health or actively participating in the movement. He described Movember as a 30-day opportunity for men to let their guards down and openly discuss their issues, whether physical or mental, and make sure they’re looking out for one another.

“Guys are macho and I think this gives all of us, and the people who care for us, an opportunity to talk about things that we may not talk about regularly,” said Bashkoff. “I think there’s been a lot of things over the past few years that would shift the focus from physical-health issues to mental-health issues and it’s something that just doesn’t get talked about enough. It’s a good thing that we have such a close-knit community here.”

West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi, an active participant each year, echoed Bashkoff.

"We never lose sight of Movember being recognized world-wide for its contributions to men's health…but it has become an important local tradition here in West Orange, inspiring men to grow the stash, participate and, more importantly, to take care of themselves and to get themselves to the doctor,” he said. “It has been a fun way to remind ourselves of the importance of remembering men's health issues and we have Perry Bashkoff to thank for that."

Various organizations from West Orange are already involved this year, including Mountain Top League, West Orange Police Athletic League (PAL) and others.

Attendees will have the ability to win the following prizes/VIP packages upon purchasing raffle tickets and placing them in containers associated with each individual prize/experience:

• Tickets to School of Rock the Musical on Broadway

• Gift certificate to Paul's On Times Square

• Gift certificate to Don Juan Bar and Restaurant

• Gift certificate to A Unisex Hairport

• Tickets to Brooklyn Nets

• Gift certificate to Egan's Saloon

• Gift certificate to City Workshop Men's Supply Co.

• Ticket to New York Red Bulls

• Headphones from Samsung

• Photo session from Jess and Beck Photography

• Gift certificate from Calabria Pizzeria & Restaurant

• Gift certificate to Pink CupCakes

• Gift certificate to Residence Inn West Orange

• Passes to Liberty Science Center

• One-week of free summer camp from Doug Nevins Soccer

• White Gloves & Apron Cleaning Services

• Gift certificate from Whole Foods Market Essex County

• Salon day certificate from Salon Profilo

• Teeth-whitening kit from Paul M Banks

• Gift certificate from A Sip of Art

• Gift certificate from Purchased Possessions Fine Men & Ladies' Apparel

• Jump passes from Sky Zone Pine Brook

• Four-some with carts at Galloping Hill Golf Course

• Gift certificate from Mark & Julie's Homemade Ice Cream

• Gift certificate to Bar Method Montclair

According to Bashkoff, more prizes are coming in every day and more community members are joining the team.

For more information or to join Team Mo’ Wo, go to www.westorange.org/movember.

Those who cannot attend the fundraiser but want to donate can click HERE.