BAGHDAD - What started as a friendly competition between two Soldiers from Headquarters Support Company, 101st Engineer Battalion, has grown into support for a charity event in their home state.Spc. Anthony Cavalieri, of Framingham, Mass., and Spc. Joseph Costa, of Clinton Mass., began a bet with each other to see who could grow and maintain a "deployment mustache" the longest time without shaving it.Then Cavalieri came up with an idea: the bet could be used to help others. So the two Soldiers ran the idea by their company commander, Capt. Michael McDevitt, of Sutton, Mass., HSC, 101st Eng. Bn. He was quick to support it."I told them to put it in writing and I would help distribute the idea to the companies. I think it could work well; it's a great idea," said McDevitt. "Heck, if someone sponsored me, I'd grow one."Cavalieri wanted to find a charity in his hometown when deciding which one to promote. The Jimmy Fund, founded in 1948, supports the fight against cancer in both children and adults at Boston's Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The Jimmy Fund is widely known in Massachusetts for its involvement with many local sports teams that Soldiers here follow."This is a great opportunity to both raise money for a good cause and to show the people of the commonwealth that even though the Soldiers of the 101st Eng. Bn. are deployed, we are still Massachusetts National Guardsmen," said Cavalieri.Cavalieri may have suggested the Jimmy Fund because it was local, but Costa strongly agreed since his wife's grandmother died from cancer in 2009.Cavalieri knows many causes have a little ribbon you can wear to promote a foundation, but he realizes wearing a pink one won't exactly follow AR 670-1."We are having fun with it, our mustache is our version of the little pink ribbon," said Cavalieri.The idea has grown on a lot of Soldiers from 101st Eng. Bn., who are getting involved by sporting their own 'stache. Spc. Joshua Newman, of North Attleboro, HSC, 101st Eng. Bn., normally would never wear a mustache. He started growing one."I can't pass up the opportunity to help a good cause," said Newman.
Costa and Cavalieri are very pleased with the amount of positive feedback and support they are getting from the Battalion."People love it! They walk by and say, 'Stache for Cash!'" said Cavalieri.
The Soldiers are asking for a donation of $1.00 per day for their remaining time in theater, which will end soon. They have raised more than $500 already, and will donate it in full to the Jimmy Fund upon their return home.