As of Tuesday afternoon, a Newport Beach Movember team has raised more money than any other U.S. team, making it the organization's second-highest fundraiser globally.
Led by "Coach" John Cornuke, a Costa Mesa native who now lives in Newport Beach, Team Nuclear's 170 members have raised $85,192, which puts them ahead of the 12,908 other American teams.
By growing mustaches from Nov. 1 to 30, the men raise funds and awareness for men's health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer.
Team Nuclear's success has gained a national following since being founded in Newport, Cornuke said.
"We've gotten people from Connecticut, Maryland, San Francisco, Denver," he said.
He added that some Movember participants from last year decided to join his team's ranks in a "if we can't beat you, let's join you" mentality.
Team Nuclear's goal this year is to raise $125,000.
"We've got 60% of our goal even before the midway point," he said.
Last year, the team raised $98,000 — the third highest for an American team and the eighth highest in the world, Cornuke said.
Ulich & Terry LLP, a Newport Beach law firm, has also joined the Movember effort.
Firm partner James Ganion leads the six-member Mown It, which so far has raised about $7,600. The team's website is mobro.co/MownIt.
"Every time I appear in court or at a deposition, I get grief for having a mustache," Ganion said in an email. "But then I can start a dialogue about Movember and men's cancer, and hopefully do my small part to raise awareness and moneys to help fight this horrific disease."
Added attorney Jason Feld, a fellow Mown It team member, "I've been accused of impersonating a beat cop, and my daughters' friends give me strange looks, but having an upper-lip sweater help to fight cancer makes it worth it."
Team Nuclear's upcoming fundraisers
Team Nuclear's next fundraiser is a poker tournament Thursday at Newport Rib Co., 2196 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa. The buy-in for Mo Poker Night is $100.
Check-in begins at 6 p.m., with "power appetizers" at 6:30. The cards will be dealt from 7 to 11, with prizes to the top five winners.
To register for Mo Poker Night, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cornuke said a visiting firefighter from Georgia saw Team Nuclear's story in the Daily Pilot, went home and now his whole firehouse is on the team.
An employee at Cal State Fullerton, who is a prostate cancer survivor, also read the story and will speak at the tournament.