WEST ORANGE, NJ — As part of #GivingTuesday, West Orange resident Perry Bashkoff is encouraging the community to help him surpass his personal fundraising record for the annual Movember movement, where men around the world grow mustaches to help raise funds to battle various men’s physical and mental health diseases.
Each year, Bashkoff serves as captain for “Team West Orange Mo's,” a group of brave West Orange men who participate in order to bring the West Orange community together to help save more lives.
“Everyone will benefit at one point in their life from the fundraising and medical research that has been generated from the work the Movember foundation has done since it started over 15 years ago,” said Bashkoff. “It's simple: you shave clean on Nov. 1, then you shave to keep only the mustache until Dec. 1. It's supposed to be weird—it's supposed to generate a conversation about why you're doing it.
“Thanks to my amazing resemblance to Super Mario, every day I'm able to have a meaningful conversation about why I'm doing it, why it's important to go to the doctor, why it's important to encourage those we love to do the same, and why it's okay to have a conversation if you're struggling for help.”
Having lost two friends over the last year, Bashkoff said that this is an issue that touches everyone—including brothers, fathers, sons, grandsons, grandfathers, friends, colleagues and women.
For Bashkoff, who had to change his entire lifestyle after being diagnosed with systemic lupus, the mission to raise funds and awareness for both physical and mental health issues—specifically among men—is extremely personal.
“Men in general don’t take care of themselves,” said Bashkoff. “Over the past five years, I’ve lost two good friends way too early—one to cancer and one to a freak heart attack—and they were 40-to-45 years old. That’s a crazy thing. Between that and mental health and suicide, it’s one of my passions to make sure that men take care of themselves.”
With two sons, ages 13 and 9, as well as two nephews, Bashkoff is determined to pass along the message that men should not be afraid to visit their doctors, talk about their physical and mental health issues with others and also help others who are in need.
“The Movember organization is a great one because they hit both of those things (mental and physical health),” said Bashkoff. “They make sure people are getting checked for testicular cancer and prostate cancer and they have the whole ‘Move Movement,’ which is about physical exercise and making sure you’re taking care of yourself.
"There are organizations for breast cancer, ovarian cancer and all of these things, but the uniqueness of this is that you have to talk about it every day because you’re growing this stupid mustache and people ask every day. It gets the conversation going and I just think it’s a really unique way to spread the word and it brings people together.”
Since surpassing his own $10,000 goal for 2018, Bashkoff has kicked the goal up to $15,000 with only four days left to go. Already past the $12,000 mark as of Monday night, Bashkoff is well on his way to raising nearly $50,000 for the cause in the last six years.
To visit the fundraising page for Team West Orange Mo's, click HERE.