When my father, Jay Bowen, received a diagnosis of Stage 3 prostate cancer seven years ago, he educated himself, made important holistic lifestyle changes and ultimately underwent various cancer treatments to fight his disease. After discovering the ZERO Prostate Cancer run/walks in the summer of 2013, I was able to convince my dad to participate. Even though running “wasn’t his thing,” once he learned more about ZERO, he was inspired. That year, “Team Jaybird” signed up for the Baltimore race at Towson University with 11 team members.
Team Jaybird came back to Towson again in 2014 and in 2015. The latter year, we rented a bus to transport our expanding team to and from the event. It was at that time we also began a tradition of having a picnic afterward at a family friend’s house on the Patuxent River in Huntingtown, MD.
My dad participated in the Towson run/walk for the last time in 2016. He wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to complete the course because of the pain from his cancer progression, which had reached Stage 4. But with the support of our friends and family, my dad was able to walk the course and even found the strength to jog across the finish line. It was a truly special moment for all of us.
When my father lost his fight on April 23, 2017, our family struggled with participating in the 2017 ZERO race “in memory” of Jay Bowen instead of “in honor” of him. However, we were determined to continue to raise funds for the cause and to keep my dad’s memory alive. Because the majority of our family and friends live near Huntingtown, MD, we decided to hold a satellite race at the same family friend’s house where we had gathered after previous Baltimore races. After completing our own 5K course, everyone gathered for a potluck picnic. The event was a wonderful way to remember my dad and to carry on the tradition of participating in the ZERO races, even if from afar.
On September 23, 2018, Team Jaybird had our second annual race in Huntingtown. Each of the past two years, nearly 120 people came out in my dad’s memory. Our family is honored and grateful for their overwhelming interest to participate in and donate to the cause. Over the six years Team Jaybird has been involved with ZERO, we have raised roughly $40,000 to help other men and families facing the disease. Go Team Jaybird!