Blue Ball brings awareness to men’s health

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By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor

Men tend to put their families first in their lives and neglect their own health, according to Man Up Gadsden co-founder Teresa Taylor.
That is one of the many reasons Taylor and Dr. John Pirani founded Man Up Gadsden together.

“I have always worked with local organizations and work with Never Surrender,” Taylor said. “I’ve been friends with Dr. Pirani and see him at different events or at Absolute Fitness. He was wanting to start something like Never Surrender for men and was wondering how to go about doing it. We’ve been working on Man Up Gadsden ever since.”

Man Up Gadsden, which was founded in 2017, is a non-profit organization focusing on men’s health. According to Taylor, Man Up Gadsden was by people in the community — medical personnel, concerned parents and community advocates — who realized a need to bring awareness of prostate and testicular cancer to the forefront of men’s heath.

One of the most impactful ways the organization is bringing awareness to men’s health issues like testicular and prostate cancer is by hosting blue rallies at various high schools in conjunction with Never Surrender’s pink rallies.

At the rallies, students are separated by gender and taught about various health issues that relate to their bodies, including cancers.

Students are also given tips on self-checking for issues and shower cards to help remind them of what to do once they have left the rally.

Taylor, who is a mother to two teenage boys, says the blue and pink rallies are important for various reasons, but mostly, it helps catch situations before they get worse.

“Dr. Pirani had a mother call about an issue her son was having after he brought home the blue rally shower card,” Taylor said. “He was able to get help for it.”

Taylor said that prostate cancer is a silent cancer, because often times there are no symptoms until the cancer has progressed to later stages. Testicular cancer is similar.

Apart from raising awareness about men’s health, Man Up Gadsden also provides some financial assistance to men who are going through a health issue. The organization has helped men with the cost of gasoline for doctor’s visits, the cost of treatments, transportation back and forth to doctor’s offices, groceries and more.

To help support the organizations awareness campaign and financial assistance program, the group holds three different large fundraising events: The Blue Ball, Casting for Cancer and Dasche for the Stache.

The Blue Ball, a night full of delicious food, games and conversation, is held in June. Casting for Cancer, a bass fishing tournament, is held in September. Dasche for the Stache, a 5k marathon, is held in November.

The fifth Blue Ball will be held Friday night, at the Kiwanis Pavilion at Noccalula Falls. The 350 tickets originally available for the event have already sold out but interested individuals can email info@manupgadsden.com to reserve tickets for next year.

The Blue Ball being held in June is significant, according to Taylor, because June is recognized as Men’s Health Month. In cooperation with Man Up Gadsden, several business and monuments have agreed to light up blue for the month of June.

Noccalula Falls, the Spirit of Citizenship Monument on Rainbow Drive, Hematology and Oncology Associates of Alabama, Gadsden Regional Medical Center and Riverview Regional Medical Center’s fountain have all been turned blue, thanks to special lights.

The Blue Ball raises nearly $40,000 annually. The Ball took a brief break in years past, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Blue Ball would not be possible without our sponsors,” Taylor said. “We could not do it without their help and their support.”

This year’s sponsors are Boatner and Pugh, Clinicial Urology Associates, Absolute Fitness, Rainbow Restoration, Aligned Insurance, Anesthesia Associates, Family Savings Credit Union, DDuck, Inc., City of Gadsden, Coca-Cola, City of Hokes Bluff, Elite Health and Urgent Care, Dowdy’s Office Equipment, Gadsden Parks and Recreation, BKintz, Oak Hill Village, Aviate, River Bank and Trust, Model Tees, Docta, Spectrum Reach, Advanced Imaging, JP and Son, Etowah Pediatrics, Foote Bros. Carpet One, Riverside Fine Jewelers, Union Jack Café, ABS Elite, Alabama Firearms Academy, Gadsden UPS Store, Motorplex, The Chamber, Alabama Teachers Credit Union, Exchange Bank, Salon Envi, Trussville Tax and Accounting, Modern Woodmen, Regional Clinic, Clyde Mays, Southern Immediate Care and Northeast Orthopedic.

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