Back in 2021, amongst the chaos of the epidemic and ever growing mayhem of society, insurance man Michael Simmons decided he wanted to create some good in our community. How did he decide to do this? By growing a mustache! This is the story of how ridiculousness meets philanthropy.
What is Mustaches for Kids?
Mustaches for Kids is a volunteer-run, national non-profit that recruits men to grow a mustache (and ONLY a mustache), called “growers”, while earning pledges and donations that are then given to a local children’s charity. In 1999, a group of doctors working at a children’s hospital in Los Angeles, California, found that they were underfunded and needed to raise money. To raise these funds, they pledged to grow mustaches for 30 days in exchange for support and donations. From that point on, Mustaches for Kids has become a growing national organization, with 9 chapters spread around the country. In 2021, M4K America was able to raise over $2 million, all of which was donated to local children’s charities in each chapter’s area. Let’s take a moment to break that number down: 9 chapters across the nation raised over $2 million in 30 days. That’s more than $66,000 a day!
The Story of M4K Nashville and Michael Simmons
During the early days of quarantine in 2020, like many of the rest of us, Michael Simmons found himself restless and wanting more. One day, he received a call from his buddies in his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, asking him to donate to their mustache. He had participated in the Virginia chapter of Mustaches for Kids before he moved to Nashville in 2017, but their call encouraged him to seek out the Nashville chapter so that he too could join. He soon came to find that there wasn’t a Nashville chapter, so he reached out to M4K America in hopes of starting it himself. Finally, in January of 2021, Michael Simmons and the national branch of M4K worked together to create the Mustaches for Kids Nashville chapter. In their first year, M4K Nashville was able to recruit 21 “growers” and raised $22,000 for High Hopes Development Center in Franklin. Because of this, High Hopes nominated Michael for the “Newcomer Impact Community Service Award” from Franklin Tomorrow, which he won in November of 2021.
Michael remembered his time in the Virginia chapter of M4K and how it shaped his perspective of “hanging out with the buddies.” In an interview with Micheal, he described how he has built his philosophy of M4K Nashville around the “3 C’s”, “We are for men’s Camaraderie, which is men’s fellowship, hanging out with other men… supporting local businesses during Covid-19… and lastly, but most importantly, we are helping a local Children’s Charity.” Michael has worked hard to create a fun and inviting environment for the “growers”, as well as their friends and family. At the beginning of the growing season in October, all the “growers” shave clean and receive a “‘Stache Bag”, which contains several fun mustache themed items, including a shirt. Each week during the next 30 days, the “growers” and their friends and family take over a local business and have some fun, including trivia and axe throwing.
There are also different level’s you can reach as a grower based on how much money you raise. For example, the highest level a grower can accomplish is the “Seleck Society”, named after Tom Selleck who has a sweet ‘stache. Michael has no shortage of stories to tell about his time in M4K Nashville, and there is also no shortage of amusement and making fun of each other’s mustaches!
When Michael was in college, he worked at a summer camp for kids with terminal illnesses. “I have a place in my heart for at risk youth… It was the most amazing experience of my life, to work with those kids.” This year, M4K Nashville has decided to partner with Barefoot Republic Camp and Retreat Centers, meaning all proceeds will be sent in support of Barefoot Republic. Their mission is to “facilitate Christ-centered relationships between individuals from diverse racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds through an equally diverse platform of artistic, athletic, and team-building programs.” To read more about Barefoot Republic, click this link to their website: https://www.barefootrepublic.org
How to Get Involved
While it may seem that the only way to get involved is to grow a ‘Stache, there is an opportunity for everyone. In Michael’s words, “…the best growers have a [support system] that gets it and sends out the link to their friends… If we are working together and you’re supporting me and my mustache, then we can raise a ton of money that all goes to a good cause.” Donating or pledging support to a grower can help immensely, as well as participating in events hosted by M4K Nashville. This year, many of the events will be themed to Top Gun.
If you are a local organization who is interested in sponsoring M4K Nashville, take a look at the sponsorship opportunities below and contact Michael Simmons. Know anyone who might be interested in growing? Click the link below to sign up or visit M4K Nashville’s website to learn more. Make sure to follow M4K Nashville on instagram to stay up-to-date and follow their journey. This year, Michael hopes to exceed double the money raised from 2021, so in the words of M4K Nashville, “LET’S GROW THIS!”
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