One of the first things you notice about Adam Causgrove is his mustache -- and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Mr. Causgrove is the president of the American Mustache Institute and holder of the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year title. He is also a member of the Steel City Beard & Mustache Club.
Mr. Causgrove is one of the organizers and master of ceremonies for Beards for Beasts competition, a benefit Saturday at the Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. Proceeds go to the Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh. Bearded and mustached men will compete in several categories, including natural beard, styled beard and the freestyle category.
For Mr. Causgrove, 29, of Mount Washington, it's all great fun and one of the many roles in his busy life. In addition to his volunteer roles with the institute, he is a grants administrator at the University of Pittsburgh; director of community outreach for Side Project Inc., a nonprofit he co-founded; a tour guide for PA Brew Tours and an umpire for Pittsburgh Sports League. In addition, he is the creator of Dinfinity, a fundraising project under the Side Project, and serves as president for PAWS for Olympia Park, a dog park on Mount Washington.
And he is managing all of this while planning a May wedding with his fiancee, Chelsea Banks, 26, of Mount Washington.
"Well, yes, I'm busy," he joked.
On Oct. 26, the American Mustache Institute will host its annual 'Stache Bash in Pittsburgh, a fundraising event and celebration during which Mr. Causgrove will hand off the crown for his title. Monies raised will benefit Steps to Independence, a nonprofit for children with motor disabilities.
Mr. Causgrove's mustache phase started when he began training Jan. 1, 2010, for the Pittsburgh Marathon.
"It was so cold, I decided to grow a big burly beard complete with mustache," Mr. Causgrove said.
As he sat at work one day, admittedly twirling his mustache -- he decided to do some research and ended up ordering products to shape his mustache; he also shaved off the "big burly beard."
Since then, there has only been a two-week period that he hasn't sported a mustache -- oddly enough, it was during that time frame that he met Ms. Banks on a blind date orchestrated by his aunt and uncle and her parents.
"By the time that I saw her again, I had it back. But her dad has a pretty rockin' mustache, and it has been kind of a bonding issue with him and me," Mr. Causgrove said.
The mustache has attracted a lot of attention, he said. For a while, he was a bartender and believes it helped his tips.
"People would always comment on it and it would lead to a lot of conversations. And people who would come in would remember you a bit more, and I would develop relationships with my customers," he said.
Mr. Causgrove discovered the Mustache Institute a couple of years ago, and his friend, Sara Kelly, nominated him for the award in 2012. Out of more than 900 nominees, Mr. Causgrove made the final 15, which included some famous individuals: Jeff Fisher from the St. Louis Rams football team and actor Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson on the TV show "Parks and Recreation."
Out of 1.3 million votes, Mr. Causgrove had 67 percent, a number, he said, was fueled by his fans in Pittsburgh.
"I was on a couple of radio stations, and my mom got everyone she works with to vote for me," he said.
Mr. Causgrove's parents, Paul and Jean, live in Erie.
When Mr. Causgrove was named Mustached American of the Year, he, his parents and Ms. Banks traveled to Tempe, Ariz., for the 2012 'Stache Bash and the announcement.
While in Arizona, Mr. Causgrove met Thomas Walter of Bloomfield. Mr. Walter was visiting a friend in Phoenix and saw that a Pittsburgher was up for the Mustached American of the Year. Since he had his own mustache, he thought it would be fun to go to the 'Stache Bash.
"It was great to see a guy from Pittsburgh win. Afterward, Adam was mingling and we started to talk. He told me about the Steel City Beard & Mustache Club, I joined and we became friends," Mr. Walter said.
Mr. Walter will serve as the disc jockey for the Beards and Beast event. Mr. Causgrove has not only helped bring more attention to mustaches, but Pittsburgh in general, Mr. Walter said.
"He is a great guy, and the mustache is obviously a conversation starter. Through the club, it is a great way for us to give back to the community while having fun with a bunch of other hairy guys," he said.
In July, Mr. Causgrove was instrumental in having the American Mustache Institute moved to Pittsburgh.
"The former president was getting busier in his own life and asked me if I would want to take over. I thought this would be a pretty good opportunity to highlight Pittsburgh one more time," Mr. Causgrove said.
The 'Stache Bash is open to the public and will follow a Halloween theme at Buckhead Saloon. The new Mustached American of the Year for 2013 will be announced at the Bash.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org