The fifth annual Feb-U-Hairy challenge kicked off Feb. 3 with a bake sale launch in the main foyer at the Health Sciences Centre.
The annual challenge was developed by two medical students at Memorial as a unique way of raising awareness and funds about cervical cancer and the importance of pap test screening. They dub the month of February as Feb-U-Hairy and challenge participants to grow leg hair for the entire month.
If you normally shave your legs, you have to let them grow for 28 days, explained medical student Angelique Myles. If you normally keep your legs hairy, ask your friends to donate until you reach your fundraising goal, then shave them smooth.
Over the last four years the number of participants and the amount of money raised has been growing steadily, according to Angie Brake, executive director of Planned Parenthood. The campaign has raised more than $15,000, with money going to support the Pap Screening Clinics at Planned Parenthood and ongoing sexual health education programs.
Ms. Myles and fellow medical student Kathleen Callanan came up with the fundraising idea in 2009 and approached Planned Parenthood as a potential partner. Since then, Feb-U-Hairy has continued to grow.
We received an enthusiastic response, said Ms. Callanan. We hope that the success of the challenge will continue to grow.
The cervical cancer screening rates among eligible women in the province has improved in recent years, from 58 per cent before 2000 to 78 per cent in 2011. Health practitioners in the province would like to see the cervical screening rate increase to 85 per cent. Ms. Myles explained that 90 per cent of cervical cancer cases can be prevented by regular pap tests.
The 2014 Feb-U-Hairy fundraiser will continue to draw attention to this health issue by engaging the public in a lighthearted challenge involving the growth of leg hair. Like the last four years, the students also hope to use the challenge to educate participants and the general public about the importance of pap tests.
The concept stems from from the Movember prostate cancer campaign that encourages men to grow mustaches and collect donations from sponsors during the month of November, explained Ms. Callanan.