Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Warren man is top of the world, 'Mo'

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If every Movember participant could attract money like Joey Johannson, curing cancer would likely be a fait accompli.

The Warren resident is not only the top fundraiser for Manitoba and Canada, he has raised more money than any other Movember participant around the world since Nov. 1.

His total of $130,000 -- and counting -- is sure to rise as donations are still being accepted for another week or so at movember.com. Money raised in Manitoba is supporting research for men's prostate cancer and mental illness.

The 36-year-old power line technician gives full credit to his company, MEG Energy, an oil sands producer in northern Alberta, and its people.

"Every single person here takes ownership (of the cause). I spend half my life with these people. The company matches every donation I get," he said.

Johannson, who earned the right to be one of the faces of MEG's Movember campaign by winning a grow-off in October, went old-school with his grooming, fashioning an Albert Einstein moustache.

He has an all-too-personal connection with prostate cancer as his dad, Russell, has been battling it for a couple of years.

"It frustrates me. By the time he got in for surgery, the doctors said if he had been there three months earlier, it would have been no problem. If the awareness had been out there for him to get early detection, bang, it would have been gone," he said.

His father is doing well but Johannson is even more concerned about his three-year-old son, Bronson.

"I don't want him to worry about losing me to something that could be detected early. Get out there and get checked," he said.

Even though glory is his, Johannson's lip adornment won't be sticking around for Christmas.

"I don't think it's going to last very long. I'll be shaving it off. I'm heading out on holidays in a few days," he said.

Jeff Palson, chair of Movember Winnipeg, said donations to the local campaign are coming in a little slower than they were a year ago. He's still hoping to surpass the $975,000 raised in the province last year by more than 10,000 "mo-bros" and "mo-sisters."

His goal of outpacing fundraising in Saskatchewan may be a tougher nut to crack. (Palson threw down the gauntlet at the start of the moustache-growing season.)

Last year, our neighbour to the west had more than 8,000 people registered -- including Premier Brad Wall -- and they raised $1.6 million.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 3, 2013 A2

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