HAMPTON, Va. – NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith joined other former NFL athletes who used their voices in support of men’s health on Saturday.
The discussion and panel was part of the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute’s (HUPTI) first Prostate Cancer and Men’s Health Awareness Fair.
“I’m 59 years old and I’ve been screened,” Smith told the packed room.
The fair brought in numerous vendors to talk with the men who came out about living a healthy lifestyle. HUPTI also offered free early-detection prostate screenings that attracted dozens soon after the doors opened at 9 a.m.
The panel of NFL athletes began at 10.
“I think our lending our voices helps to amplify the need for men specifically and African Americans to take ownership of their health,” Smith told News 3. “I think it’s real important and sometimes it gives other men a little bit more encouragement.”
Organizer Tiffany Rodgers says bringing in professional athletes to share their stories was crucial for an event that she says proved to be even more popular than expected.
“They want to break down these walls we have where we don’t talk and we’re scared to go to the doctor. We can’t do that. We have to go to the doctor, we have to get screened and we have to stick around,” said Rodgers, Marketing Director for HUPTI.
According to the Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum, one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and Black men are twice as likely to die from a low-grade case than any other race.
The forum recommends Black men and others considered high-risk for prostate cancer begin annual screenings at 40 years old.
Rodgers says she plans to make the Men’s Health Awareness Fair an annual event taking place every September.
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