by Faye Simuel – To continue their prostate health awareness boots on the ground campaign, the Protalks, (Prostate, Outreach, Opportunities and Options) community outreach project held their inaugural ‘Oldtimers Cook-off’ at Lonnie Miller Park.
Local grill masters pulled up to Lonnie Miller Park with their hand made grills to prove who could cook the best ribs in town! The grill masters were thrilled to support the prostate awareness ‘grilling for a cause,’ event with a BBQ grilled feast of baby back ribs, chicken and vegetables for judges to pick the winner. Hundreds of caring men, wives, partners, friends and health advocates were in attendance to hear prostate cancer testimonials, statistics and entertainment.
Many of the men were unaware of the prostate purpose, location and testing. “My grandfather had prostate and it just crept up on him. That’s the reason I’m scared to get tested,” said Kwame Jones. To alleviate prostate cancer testing distrust, methods and facts, Baptist Health Urologic Oncologist Dr. Jonathan Melquist, MD spoke to the crowd, “I enjoy events like these where the camaraderie is connected because men want answers,” said Dr. Melquist.
In addition to the doctor’s dialogue, Donald Foy of MAD Dads, shared his prostste cancer journey. “God has blessed me. I did not have prostate cancer in my family, yet I had it and now I’m cancer free. I am always encouraging black men to get tested right now, not tomorrow,” said Foy. Rounding out the conversation were representatives from the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) and former State Senator Tony Hill. Hill had the men in the audience smiling, when he stated, “early detection means an erection,” he said.
The event coordinators took advantage of the opportunity to distribute prostate health pamphlets to the captive audience at the event which was on Facebook Live.
The Protalks grant is a 10-month project affiliated with the University of Florida Cares2 team that seeks to address prostate cancer research and health disparities in the Black community of Duval County. Engagement includes learning to take steps to improve prostate health outcomes for males age 18 – 100. The University of Florida CaRE2 Health Equity Center partnership seeks to advance science that improves cancer health equity among Blacks and Latinos in Florida and California. Shown are the winners, Clarence Dingle (Silver/2nd place), John ‘Gator’ Muse (Bronze/3rd place) and Chris ‘Big C’ Lee (Gold/1st place winner) and grill master awardee.