Blue Ball returns, highlights need for men’s health awareness

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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 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 organization’s awareness campaign and financial assistance program, the group holds different large fundraising events. In years past, the organization hosted three events – The Blue Ball, Casting for Cancer and Dasche for the Stache – and this year two more events have been added – Bingo for Balls and the Bourbon Blue Social.

The Blue Ball will be held Saturday, June 8, at the Kiwanis Pavilion at Noccalula Falls, from 7 to 11 p.m. The 400 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 would not be possible without our sponsors,” Taylor said. “We could not do it without their help and their support.”

This year’s meal is prepared by JP & Son and Back Forty and Clyde May’s will prepare beer, wine and signature cocktails.

While the night is designed to be full of fun and socializing, the event is an important fundraiser for Man Up Gadsden’s efforts. Last year’s event raised nearly $40,000.

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 businesses 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 will all be turned blue, thanks to special lights.

This year, some downtown Gadsden merchants will decorate their windows blue, in support of Man Up Gadsden and National Men’s Health Month.

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