By Kim Walter
Young Life is coming to Warren County, but it still needs support from the community to officially get things started.
The Christian organization is known for its ability to engage middle- and high school- aged students through fun, quirky activities while still bringing a faith-based message. Surrounding areas, including Winchester, Culpeper and Fauquier County, have had the club for some time.
Garrett Hatch of Warren County is one parent who was instrumental in gaining community interest in the organization.
"I didn't get a chance to be a part of Young Life, but my wife did, and she always credits it with making her the person she is today," he said.
Over the past several months, Hatch has rounded up 10 other families in the area to start growing the club. A kick-off event has been held. He said more than 100 students showed up, and have continued asking when the weekly meetings will begin.
Hatch said the supporters have found an area director, but funds are still needed to officially make the job offer.
That's where the Mustache Madness event steps in.
The idea for the event came to Hatch when he, his wife and two children were talking about how they could spread the word about Young Life coming to Warren County. He decided the event would attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the "largest gathering of persons wearing fake mustaches."
Hatch sent in an application to break the record, and six weeks later he got word of approval. He said the mustache theme fits in with T-shirts that have been made for the area's Young Life group: on the front, they read "I (picture of a mustache) you a question" and the back asks "Do you know about Young Life Warren County?"
Additionally, Hatch said he feels the event fits in with Young Life's goal.
"Mustache Madness also captures the personality of Young Life - it is quirky, energetic and unexpected," he said. "The founder [of Young Life] is famous for saying that it is a sin to bore kids with the Gospel. Young Life takes fun seriously."
During the weekly 'club' meetings, participants and directors take part in skits and games, ending with a short faith-based message. Students also have the chance to attend a one-week summer camp. Hatch said he's been able to visit other area's clubs and camps, and he can't wait for his own "kids to have the chance to participate in them."
The Mustache Madness event, which takes place at 4:57 p.m. May 18, is free to the public. Mustaches will be provided. Hatch said some local businesses have offered to sponsor a few games, but supporters are still needed to meet the fundraising goal.
"Everything we get through this event, every penny, will go toward hiring the area director," he said. "We offer advertising benefits, of course, but most of our partners say they are motivated by Young Life's mission - to give kids in Warren County a place where fun, faith and friendship intersect."
According to the event's Facebook page, more than 100 people plan to participate. However, the current record to break is 648. Hatch is confident that number will be beat. The carnival games will have a bit of a twist, and participants can also get pictures taken in a 'mustache photo booth' or with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Si Robertson from "Duck Dynasty."
Prizes will be awarded for the largest mustached team, most beautiful bearded lady and hairiest family.
For those community members who just want to experience breaking a world record, or enjoy a night with the family, Hatch said the event would be a perfect choice.
"We'll probably explain briefly what Young Life is, but this is not a hit you over the head with religion event," he said. "It's a great family event, and if the kids like it, then I know they'll love being a part of Young Life."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org