Run From Prostate Cancer, a Chicago-based organization, held its fourth annual weekend of events. Led by Founder Michael Collins, this year’s two-day activation educated Black men on the importance of prostate cancer awareness and screening.
Michael got the idea to launch Run From Prostate Cancer in 2010, after talking with friends and family on the large number of Black men dying from the disease. “I had a conversation with my uncle and some friends, and everyone knew at least five people who had prostate cancer. That’s a high number in our community, and I knew that I had to do something about it”, he said. Michael then got an even increased push after talking with his mother, who revealed that she had several friends pass away from the illness.
Following both conversations, Michael brainstormed different ways to educate men on prostate health and found out that many Black men didn’t trust their doctors. Saying, “After doing some research on my own and speaking with a few doctors, I learned that many of them said that they were taught not to help us. Even the American Cancer Association, who was on board at first, didn’t help or support me after seeing my color.” Following those conversations, Michael realized, “We have to help ourselves because that’s the only way that this will work.”
In 2015, Michael officially launched Run From Prostate Cancer, and in 2017 began holding his annual weekend of events. This year was the second that he collaborated with sportswear brand Puma, a partnership that came by way of them seeing what they were doing with the kids and wanting to get involved. Michael said, “We really want to integrate the kids and get them educated on prostate health because it’s affecting people younger and younger. I communicated with Puma that this has to be a grassroots process. To draw them in, there has to be a feeling. And by me playing basketball my entire life, that’s how I’m able to connect with them.” Adding, “Now we have the high school students who didn’t know anything about prostate cancer up until Saturday. But now that they know are researching preventative measures to take.”
Typically held over three days, Run From Prostate Cancer’s weekend of events includes a community clean-up, youth, and charity basketball games, and concludes with a health and wellness fair. “This year, we had to postpone our community clean up due to some unfortunate events taking place in the neighborhood that we planned on going into. But when we do our community clean-ups, we always have other members of the neighborhood join us. It just shows that if we lead, then everyone will follow,” Michael said.
For Saturday’s youth and charity basketball games, Michael had open discussions on prostate health, encouraging all in attendance to be more proactive when it comes to their prostate health. There were also over 100 kids who participated and received shoes and socks from Puma. Michael shared that he is in talks of starting a league to keep these conversations going saying, “There are a lot of men at risk, we have police brutality, and widespread Chicago violence, and we want to have something semi-yearly to draw in the crowd. Because if the men start coming, the kids will come too.”
Sunday’s health and wellness day consisted of workout sessions led by Nike elite trainers, vendors, massage therapists, and concluded with a mass meditation. As for the future of Run From Prostate Cancer, Michael will be holding a 5K Run in September and has plans on opening a prostate cancer center in Chicago, saying, “I’m always thinking about what we can do or how we can connect with our Black men. Sometimes I don’t sleep. I find myself staying up late working on things for the next three to four years because I see what’s going on and want to do something about it.” Michael also revealed that he’s received a proclamation from the Mayor of Houston and will be partnering with organizations in Compton and Brooklyn to continue spreading awareness.
Of his overall feelings surrounding the work that he’s doing with Run From Prostate Cancer, Michael says, “I want people to understand the positive measures that they have to take when it comes to prostate health. As a whole, we don’t know everything, but with what we do know, we have to dial in, wake up, and get involved, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
For more information on Run From Prostate Cancer, visit https://www.runfromprostatecancer.org/.
Contributing Writer, Racquel Coral is a lifestyle writer based in Chicago. Find her on social media @withloveracquel.