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by Drew Saelens, MBA, MS   |   January 30, 2017

What Happens at a ZERO Run/Walk?

What happens at your races? What are your Run/Walks like?

In my first few months at ZERO, I was asked variations of this question by patients, advocates, sponsors, job seekers, and friends fairly often. I didn’t understand why people were so curious about what occurred at ZERO’s Run/Walks. After all, it’s just an event to raise awareness for prostate cancer, right?

Well that is what I thought until I attended one. What happens at our Run/Walks is this: Let me introduce you to Steve and Caesar.

ZERO’s Midwest Chapter Director, Erin, introduced me to Steve and Caesar the night before our Kansas City Run/Walk. Steve and Caesar are the founding members of Prostate Network, a survivor-led prostate cancer support group serving men in Kansas City. I immediately felt their passion for raising awareness and educating men about prostate cancer. ZERO uses part of the money raised at the Kansas City race to support their local work.

Steve and Caesar had a slow start to their group. At their first meeting, as the two of them sat staring at each other wondering why no other men had shown up, Steve looked down at his phone and realized the email with the information about where and when to meet was idly sitting in his outbox. No one had known where or when the meeting was, and so the first meeting was just Steve and Caesar. But according to them, it was a great meeting that fostered a deep friendship. Since then, the group has grown to dozens of attendees both in person and via Skype.

But Steve and Caesar wanted to do more. They had asked to meet with me when I came to town for the race to discuss how they could become more involved in state advocacy for prostate cancer issues. We talked about ZERO’s policy priorities and about participating in our annual Summit.

The next day at the race, I cheered on Steve and Caesar and hundreds of other participants as they ran and walked for prostate cancer awareness. After the race, I noticed Caesar talking to a long-time advocate of ours, John. I walked up to them and said I was glad they were talking because I wanted to introduce them. They started laughing. It turns out that while John makes deliveries for UPS, Caesar works at the distribution facility. They have known each other for years but never knew about their mutual connection to prostate cancer. This realization blossomed. Now, members of the Prostate Network and ZERO attend health fairs and awareness events together.

And it led to me, Steve, and Caesar meeting with local senate offices to discuss policy priorities for the prostate cancer community. Then that led to Steve discussing the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) with the University of Kansas, which led their endowment head to inquire about how they could secure more funding for prostate cancer research through the program. And who knows where that research will lead us in battle to save men’s lives.

So what happens at our Run/Walks? Well, from my perspective, passionate people make relationships and connections with other like-minded amazing people that work together to have a tangible impact in the fight against prostate cancer.

Want to make your own race connection?