By Gretchen D. Phillips |

St. Mary’s City, Md. –Mustaches are in full effect on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Men’s Lacrosse team as part of a campaign to improve the lives of those with cancer.

Lax Stache Madness, through the HEADstrong Foundation, is an online fundraiser running from Oct. 19 through Nov. 28 that encourages students to toss their razors, grow mustaches and compete against other teams across the country.

This year’s Stache Madness campaign is aimed at supporting leukemia patient Lexi, 6, and her family.

The HEADstrong foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and raising awareness of blood-based cancer and helping families impacted by the disease.

SMCM’s varsity lacrosse coach, Jason Childs, knows all too well what a cancer diagnosis means to individuals and their families.

Childs was diagnosed with colon cancer over the summer after more than a year of experiencing severe discomfort, doctor’s visits that yielded few answers, and ultimately an invasive test that found a cancerous mass covering more than half of his colon.

Childs admits he likely had cancer for several years before it was diagnosed because he dismissed signs and put off tests, waiting until his lacrosse season ended to get things checked out.

“To say this health scare was the wake-up call of a lifetime would be an understatement. I can say that it has truly given me perspective and allowed me to prioritize my life and see the bigger picture.”

The day of his surgery to remove the cancer, he learned that a fellow coach in the lacrosse community had died that day of the same diagnosis. Childs struggled with questions of why one life was taken while his was spared. He looked to his faith. “God wants me to continue to write my story,” he said.

Later in the summer, Childs was contacted by the HEADstrong Foundation, and he decided to help out with this year’s fundraising contest by serving as the collegiate coach ambassador for the Lax Stache Madness contest.

The Lacrosse program at SMCM started creating buzz about the contest well before the kick-off date and has already reached half of its $5,000 goal. Childs is sporting a Fu Manchu style mustache for the duration of the campaign and was impressed at how quickly his players, Jack Conway, Erich Wuesthoff and Steve Jones grew out the handlebar look, joining Childs’ “Fu Crew.”

Childs said the HEADstrong Foundation does for families of cancer patients what his St. Mary’s College of Maryland community, especially the athletics department, did for him — make life outside of the cancer diagnosis easier.

“It doesn’t go to a cure for cancer,” he said about funds raised through HEADstrong, “It goes to supporting families when faced with the worst news.”

He said that type of support is what he received from his St. Mary’s College community.

Head Men’s Soccer Coach Alun Oliver said when he learned the news of his colleague and friend, “It was literally like someone from my family was diagnosed with cancer.”

According to Oliver, the department immediately rallied in support of Childs’ family, helping out his wife and three children, preparing meals, doing lawnwork and anything else they could do that would help the family focus on the fight in front of them.

“The athletic department didn’t just talk about being my family. They were my family,” he said.

For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation, visit theircampaign site.