Southern Georgian Bay Firefighters Aim To Topple Goliath Again In Movember Fundraising Challenge

Firefighters Derek Manitowabi, Jeremy Harnum, Samantha Barnett, Chris Robillard and Ky Winstanley-Hayes, collect Movember donations outside the Midland Walmart on November 12th and 13th.

Fire Departments from coast to coast have renewed a friendly Movember rivalry this month as they compete in The Great Canadian Fire Challenge, which finishes today.

Last year’s two leading fire stations, Toronto and Tiny kicked off the competition on November 1 at Toronto Fire Station 346 with a shave-down.

Surprisingly, it was the 70 volunteer firefighters from Tiny who pulled off the upset victory in 2021 after raising $65,910 – exceeding Toronto Fire and its over 3,000 employees.

Tiny was the top fire department in North America, the sixth-best team overall in Canada and 17th globally. After teaming up with the Midland and Penetang departments, they raised a combined $77,662.

To learn more about Movember and this upset victory, Muskoka411 contacted: Movember team captain and Tiny Township Station 3 firefighter Samantha Barnett, Tiny Township Station 2 Captain Brian Millar, Tay Township Station 5 firefighter Trevor Bressette, and Toronto Station 344 firefighter Stephan de Groot.

What is the key to Movember fundraising success?

“Community engagement is a key part of our successful fundraising. We are able to get out as a group, meet new individuals and educate them about men’s health and hope to receive a donation in the process. To us, Movember is more than a fundraiser. It’s about all of our dads, brothers, male friends and male coworkers in our lives,” said the Southern Georgian Bay Movember team members Barnett, Millar and Bressette in an email to Muskoka411.

“I just kept asking everyone I knew if they wanted to donate. Soon as they said ‘I might,’ I kept bugging them until they did. It’s for a good cause to most people are pretty willing, and I’m pretty competitive, so that helps as well,” said de Groot in an interview with Muskoka411.

Stephan de Groot was the top fundraising Toronto firefighter for Movember in 2019 and second in 2020.

Can Tiny and Southern Georgian Bay pull off the underdog victory again this year?

“We have a big amalgamated group of strong, motivated firefighters from Tay, Midland and Penetang to work with. Teamwork makes the dream work, and hopefully, it can keep us on top. If we aren’t successful, that’s alright because it’s all for an amazing organization geared toward stopping men from dying too young,” said the Southern Georgian Bay firefighters.

“Toronto is so big normally we do pretty well. I believe (Tiny) came out of nowhere last year. We have a lot more firefighters. I don’t know if (Tiny) has a secret to their winning last year, but I’d love to know,” said de Groot.

Do you think female firefighters feel left of Movember?

Mo-sistas are equally involved in our fundraiser, and our team captain is a woman (Barnett, who raised $8,120). This is her third year participating and her second year as captain. She is a dedicated and hardworking member in our field. When it comes to the fundraiser, there’s no one more committed than she is. You don’t have to grow a Mo to save a bro – although we love that quote. Anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to grow facial hair finds many other creative ways to gain donations,” said the Southern Georgian Bay firefighters.

Samantha Barnett was the top fundraising woman and top firefighter in Canada in 2021.

Why are mustaches often associated with firefighters?

“That’s the only facial hair we can have because we need a safe seal when we put on our masks,” said de Groot.

“Historically, it’s tradition. Some fire departments required their members to grow facial hair because they believed if they wet it, they could protect themselves from heat and smoke better, and they could stay inside and go deeper into a fire than guys that didn’t have facial hair,” said the Southern Georgian Bay firefighters.

BBC: Why 19th-century fire-fighters needed courage, determination and impressive facial hair.

Movember is the world’s leading men’s health charity. It has funded over 1,250 initiatives – nearly 300 in Canada – that aid mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

There is mounting evidence that firefighters and first responders are at increased risk of poor mental health and suicide. In response, Movember and The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride launched a $7.51-million initiative in 2020 to support first responders and their families.

To donate, visit


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