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Fire chief gets in the “Movember” spirit

Somerset Fire Chief Travis Belisle’s face before he begins his “shave the date” for the Movember men’s health awareness movement. Barber Rory Coon of Le Beau’s Barber Shop in Stillwater does the honors. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)1 / 2
Barber Rory Coon of Le Beau’s Barber Shop in Stillwater has Somerset Fire Chief Travis Belisle all ready to begin his month of growing and maintaining a moustache for the month of “Movember.” (Photo by Tom Lindfors)2 / 2

For the last three years, Travis Belisle, fire chief of Somerset Fire and Rescue, has had a “shave the date” appointment on Nov. 1.

It’s not due to a yearly makeover ritual; it’s to help raise money and awareness to combat men’s health issues through the Movember Foundation.

The foundation’s goal, according to its website, is to “increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides getting an annual check-up, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of any family history of cancer, and to adopt a healthier lifestyle.”

Men who take part in “Movember,” like Belisle, begin the month of November clean-shaven. They then grow and maintain a moustache for the month, while gathering donations for the organization.

“Through the power of Mo, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges,” according to the Movember website.

Belisle said while he has no history in his family of these illnesses, he knows some of his colleagues have family members who do.

Belisle is part of the Lakeview Ambulance team called Mo Medics and Mo Friends out of Stillwater. Four other members of Somerset Fire and Rescue are also on the team: Richard Nelson, Joel Bulman, Crissy Dalbec and Matt Nelson. Belisle said there are also members of the Town of St. Joseph’s Fire Department on the team.

Belisle said Somerset Fire and Rescue used to take part as an entire department, but interest has dwindled over the years.

Women also take part in the Movember movement by raising funds and encouraging the men in their lives to take part in health screenings. The women members of the foundation call themselves Mo Sistas.

Belisle said while he can’t remember exactly how he and his colleagues decided to get involved years ago, it’s something they look forward to every year because it’s fun.

“Last year, I had a goal of $1,000 and blew that away,” Belisle said. “Maybe this year I can hit $2,000.”

Last year the Mo Medics and Mo Friends team raised $15,000, Belisle said. This year the goal of their 71-member team is to beat that.

Belisle said he raises money by writing about it on Facebook, emailing people he knows and asking his large family for donations.

He finished second last year on his team and hope to raise enough money to be first this year.

The foundation began in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003. Last year more than 3 million people participated from 21 countries. The organization raised more than $21 million in the United States last year and more than $147 million for the cause across the world.

Belisle said he and his team look forward to their end of Movember team celebration every year. This year’s will be at Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque in Stillwater on Nov. 30, where they will also hold a silent auction.

Anyone interested in learning more about the cause or in donating can visit Belisle’s Web page at

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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