We were discussing how my trips to Washington, D.C. with ZERO have been so gratifying, how these trips leave my wife Sherry and I feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride. For a long time, I’d been looking for a way to give back. This also happens to be the very subject I listened to Matt Marks discuss during the 2017 Prostate Cancer Summit: grassroots advocacy.
Ever since I was diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer myself, I try to advocate at every opportunity. When talking about this with my daughter – a distance runner herself – she suggested that we stage our own race. She mentioned the concept of having a doughnut race where runners stop after every lap on a closed course and they must eat a doughnut before continuing. Then, my wife came up with the idea of having hot dogs instead of doughnuts, since it was to help fight prostate cancer. Voila! The Wiener Walk/Run was born! Of course I recognized the innuendo (and so did everyone else). That was our “hook” to get attention. It was shortly afterward that I approached my employer, Rockcastle Regional Hospital (locally known as “The Rock”), and nervously asked them to come on board as the primary sponsor. The Community Relations department thought it was a novel idea and had no reservations with being involved.
Fast forward to September: After much leg work, discussion, and the generosity of several local businesses, I landed sponsorship from six businesses, including The Rock and my urologist, Dr. Denis Yalkut, MD. We received donations from people who couldn’t attend. We even had nine orders for just the T-shirt that was designed by my son-in-law, Brendan Jones. We also had numerous door prizes to draw for that had a cumulative value of more than $400.
The event definitely generated a lot of interest, especially when people heard it was going to be called the Wiener Walk. Everybody I talked to thought it was a terrific concept and a name nobody could forget. I spent a lot of time sending emails back and forth to the folks at ZERO so I could get the advice I needed, being this was my first attempt at such an endeavor. I have to give them a lot of credit for helping make this a success.
On the day of the race, we were ecstatic to have 45+ walkers and runners in attendance. From all sponsorships, donations, and race registration fees, we were able to raise in excess of $1,400 for ZERO. This amount is well beyond my initial expectation. The outpouring of support from this small community has been amazing! Everybody who attended was so very supportive and came with the purpose in mind to show support and to raise awareness.
Nearly everyone who attended had some connection to prostate cancer, be it a father, brother, uncle or friend who had been affected. There were a few who had lost a loved one to this disease. There were even a couple folks who had no connection to prostate cancer whatsoever; they simply wanted to take part as a statement in the fight against cancer in our local community. Whatever their reason for participating, all came together in the spirit of solidarity against a ruthless and indiscriminate killer.
All knew that this was a fun run, and that’s exactly what it was for all. I’m certain that in the future, when someone who was a part of this eats a hot dog, they will be reminded of their own role in the fight to achieve Generation ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer.