EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas is an avid participant in "Movember," when men around the world grow moustaches to help raise funds for awareness in the fight against cancer.
"The best facial hair I can grow is a moustache," Cizikas said. "It doesn't take too long. It's starting to come in darker for some reason. I don't know."
Cizikas, 25, didn't hesitate when asked who could grow the best moustache in the Islanders locker room, pointing directly at Cal Clutterbuck.
"Look at him now. It just stands by itself," Cizikas said. "Look at that thing."
The Movember Foundation is the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men's health. The main purpose of Movember is to spark conversation and raise funds for the fight against prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems. It has raised more than $550 million since 2004.
Men start clean-shaven Nov. 1 and grow their moustache for 30 days, getting friends, family and colleagues to donate to their moustache-growing efforts. The Islanders are an annual participant and will ask fans throughout the month to support them as they raise money for the cause.
"It's definitely big," Cizikas said. "It's a big issue for men around the world, and to bring awareness to it, to raise money for it, it's definitely a really big thing going on."
In addition to the fundraisers, the Islanders have invited various cancer-fighting organizations to help raise awareness for their causes throughout October and November. Each group has been invited to distribute information at the game, educating fans about specific organizations, including Alex's Lemonade Stand, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, American Cancer Society: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer, Love Your Melon, Movember and DKMS, which fights blood cancer.
The Islanders held their Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night on Oct. 30, which included a ceremonial puck drop by young children battling cancer.
"That was tough," Cizikas said. "Those kids are dealing with so much going on and at such a young age. It can't be easy. Any little thing that us as guys and as an organization, anything that we can do to try to put a smile on their face in the tough times that they're going through, I think it definitely makes a big deal in our life for them, but for their families as well. I can't imagine what they're going through."
Cancer has impacted Cizikas' family; his grandmother battled breast cancer and his grandfather died from lung cancer. He's also known people outside his family who succumbed to the disease.
"I've had friends that have lost their parents; really close friends that have lost their parents," Cizikas said. "It's definitely tough and it's something that we're dealing with as a group every single day."