12/06/2010 10:37 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Orlando-area Firefighter is Mustached American Of Year

After garnering 22 percent of more than 500,000 online votes, Brian Sheets, a firefighter from Orlando, FL, who founded a mustache-based charity, was named the American Mustache Institute's "Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year" for 2010.

Sheets outdistanced a strong group of well-deserving candidates including North Dakota Governor and U.S. Senator-elect John Hoeven, Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten, documentarian and frequent McDonald's customer Morgan Spurlock, and former professional basketball player and current Sacramento (Calif.) Mayor Kevin Johnson.

The award was announced Saturday in St. Louis at the American Mustache Institute's annual 'Stache Bash charity benefit which was held at Mike Shannon's Outfield before a raucous crowd of Mustached Americans and other lesser clean-shaven attendees. The event raised money for cancers affecting men through Movember, an international charity that encourages men to grow mustaches.

The ruggedly handsome Sheets, upon being handed the Goulet Award plaque and a dapper $3 crown in recognition of winning the honor, was overwhelmed.

"Winning is a great honor for me, as well as for all the firemen who have served under the influence of the mustache," a humbled Sheets said with tears in his eyes. "A man without a mustache -- is he really a man? I believe not, considering the command presence and extraordinary power that comes with one. And this great honor tells me my beliefs are taking me in the right direction."

A firefighter, emergency medical technician (EMT), and EMT instructor for the Central Florida Fire Academy in Kissimmee, in 2010 Sheets founded Firemen with Mustaches, which builds awareness about firefighter fatalities and seeks to raise funds for the families of fallen colleagues.

With more than a half-million people weighing in, voting this year reached a record high for the three-year-old Goulet award, and Sheets clearly caught the eye of the voters.

In nominating him, one of Sheets' EMT students wrote: "Most people teach for a paycheck and don't care about much more than the extra money. Instructor Sheets is different. He stood with us and motivated us and instilled in us information and morals that would have been left by the wayside by anyone else."

Presented by Ace Tool in 2010, the Goulet Award is not a "best mutache" contest but instead recognizes the person who best-represents or contributes to the Mustached American community during the prior year, and is named in honor of the late and legendary performer Robert Goulet, whose voice, trademark mustache, sense of humor, and black leather jackets represented a quadruple-threat of talent the American Mustache Institute is proud to salute.

The top five in voting included:

1. Sheets (22 percent)
2. Syndicated columnist Jerry Zezima (17 percent)
3. Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano (15 percent)
4. Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten (14 percent)
5. Entertainer Brandon Wardell (13 percent)

Previous winners of the award were Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Clay Zavada (2009) and retired New York narcotics detective Tim Galvin (2008).

"Brian represents everything that is good, decent and sexually dynamic in the Mustached American community," Dr. Aaron Perlut, chairman of the American Mustache Institute said following the announcement. "His rich lip sweater and commitment of the betterment of those around him made him an outstanding finalist and deserving winner."

'Stache Bash 2010 is an annual charitable benefit, and this year's event was held in collaboration with Movember and benefitted The Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG.