Karl, Nuggets staff join the Movember movement

When it comes to raising awareness in the fight against cancer, few faces are more recognizable than Nuggets coach George Karl.

And now that face is in need of a shave.

Karl and several Nuggets staff members are growing mustaches – or, at least, attempting to grow mustaches – as part of Movember, a movement to promote awareness for cancer in men and raise money for the cause.

Founded in Melbourne, Australia, Movember has grown from 30 registered participants in 2003 to nearly 450,000 last year. More than $174 million was raised through 2010, according to the Movember website.

“I think it’s been tremendous because of the success of it,” said Karl, a two-time cancer survivor. “The idea was based on, ‘Let’s bring awareness to men’s cancer. I think it’s worked in a fun way. We can grow our mustache, not shave for a month, and have a reason to get away with it.”

Joining Karl in the Movember movement are assistant coach Chad Iske, advance scout Jesse Mermuys, athletic trainer Jim Gillen, equipment manager Sparky Gonzales, team security director Bobby Simmons, director of team services Tim Dixon, director of media relations Tim Gelt, manager of media relations Nick O’Hayre and baby-faced media relations interns Nick Frank and Cody Wise.

Karl, 60, overcame prostate cancer in 2005 and is nearly two years removed from being diagnosed with head and neck cancer. After enduring intense chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Karl has been cancer-free for nearly 18 months.

Karl’s son Coby also is a cancer survivor, having defeated thyroid cancer in 2006. Even before the family’s experience, George Karl was a strong advocate in the fight against cancer, serving as a spokesman for the American Cancer Society.

Karl also is actively involved with the Cancer Care Initiative at Swedish Medical Center, the Cancer League of Colorado and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

“I think we can prevent a lot of cancers,” Karl said. “We can educate our people about nutrition and the environment that will reduce your chances of getting cancer. I’m big in prevention, education and nutritional attitudes. Awareness is basically what I’m talking about.”

And he is growing the mustache to prove it.