Staff from the Austin School District joke around about their mustaches with Hormel Institute executive director Dr. Zigang Dong who sported a fake mustache for the occasion. A check was presented to the Hormel Institute Wednesday afternoon who have been growing mustaches to raise money during November, otherwise known as Movember. -- Eric Johnson/

Archived Story

Thick upper lip: School admins fight cancer with mustaches

Published 5:28am Thursday, November 29, 2012

It had been 28 days since a razor touched the skin above Brad Bergstrom’s lip, but he wouldn’t last much longer. It was beginning to itch.

“I believe the words are ‘ASAP,’” said the Austin High School principal about when he would shave.

Hormel Institute Dr. Zigang Dong leans in to to check out the mustache of Austin principal Brad Bergstrom Wednesday afternoon at The Hormel Institute.

Bergstrom was one of six Austin Public Schools administrators to fight cancer by growing facial hair all month as part of “Movember,” an international effort to raise awareness for men’s health problems, including prostate cancer.

So Bergstrom, David Wolff, Jason Senne, Brian Schoen, John Alberts and David Krenz showed up mustachioed Wednesday afternoon at The Hormel Institute to present a check for about $1,050 for cancer research. The men will get a plaque on The Institute’s wall to designate their contribution.

“I think everybody itches at this point,” said Alberts, educational services director.

Dr. Zingang Dong, executive director of The Institute, joined in on the fun, sporting an enormous fake mustache. Next year, he said, it will be real.

“I wish I could grow one like that,” laughed Krenz, the superintendent.

The effort began at the start of November, when the men had to reset.

“We all had to start clean-shaven on Nov. 1,” said Wolff, Gifted and Talented coordinator. He originally planned to go for handlebars, but the idea didn’t come to fruition.

“I had to go by what my wife allowed me,” he said.

Each administrator chose a different way to collect funds. Wolff ran a bake sale to raise his. He said the mustache drew a reaction from students, but also served a purpose.

“The kids are thinking it’s really strange to see you in a mustache,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to talk about health concerns for men.”

The staff voted for him to keep his mustache, but he said it likely won’t stay much longer since Christmas pictures are coming up.

Krenz said the nice part about the fundraiser was it acts as a conversation starter: As people ask about the mustache, he can segue to Movember. Krenz, unlike the rest, plans to keep his facial hair.

“I’ll probably keep mine through March,” Krenz said.

The others were more eager to see the hair go, and set their sights on shaving Friday night or Saturday morning.

Apart from donating to cancer research, the school district’s fundraiser was in part a nod to The Institute for being open to its students, Alberts said.

The school administrators discussed the possibility of donating again next year for Movember or incorporating it with another event.

“Those are the kinds of things that make this extra special,” said Gail Dennison, The Institute’s director of public relations and development. “It springs forth other ideas.”

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