Let’s be real: Men don’t always go to the doctor when they need to, or take care of themselves as they should. This includes annual checkups and participating in preventative screenings where health problems can be identified and treated before they become serious. Because of this, the 100 Black Men of Rome-NWGA, Inc. present the Health Initiative for Men & Women (H.I.M. + Women) each year with the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition as a co-sponsor.
In June of 2000, Mr. Larry Morrow, Sr. and Mr. Curtis Adams took a trip to Miami to participate in the 100 Black Men of America’s annual conference. At that conference they learned that black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, less likely to get screened, and more likely to die from the disease. In an effort to inspire men and raise awareness about men’s health issues, the duo contacted Dr. Crane of Harbin Clinic and formed a partnership to start a health fair called the Health Initiative for Men (H.I.M.)
Curtis Adams, a founder of the event said, “We had about 30 participants when we first started H.I.M. in 2001. We continued to build support and after 3 years we had outgrown our space at the Fielder’s Center and moved the event to the Floyd County Health Department. Now we average over 300 participants each year.”
“Over the years, as community based prostate screenings were discouraged, the 100 Black Men of Rome-NWGA knew that many in our community were especially susceptible to prostate cancer and wanted to ensure that these services remained available. Today, as prostate cancer rates are on the rise again, we are fortunate to have had the 100 advocating for screening services in this community all along”, stated Erin Hernandez, President/CEO of the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition. In 2016, the chapter was presented with a proclamation by Mayor Jamie Doss and the Rome City Commission declaring the 3rd Saturday of August “Health Initiative for Men Day” (H.I.M. Day) in Rome, Georgia.
Larry Morrow Sr., a founder of the event shared, “The Annual H.I.M. event may have very well saved my life. If I hadn’t participated in the prostate screening, I may have never known I had a cancerous tumor until it was too late. That’s the thing, you have to be proactive rather than reactive. Men don’t always think about that and can be resistant, so we encourage the women in their lives to get them to come get screened.” Mr. Morrow said he enjoys telling his story and hopes to inspire other men to take charge of their health. “I caught my cancer in the early stages. I’m happy to report that after around 20 radiation treatments, I have been cancer free since 2011. Cancer is nothing to be ashamed about. You don’t catch cancer. Cancer catches you. I was able to get cured thanks to this event, so I am happy to be the poster child for it.”
The planning for this event is a yearlong process for the 100BMOR-NWGA and the NWGRCC. The Health Initiative for Men and Women is host to over 40 volunteer health providers, 50+ community non-profit organizations, and many health professions students working together to make this event successful. Additionally, all of the major healthcare organizations are significant contributors. James Lee, Vice President of the 100 Black Men of Rome-NWGA, said, “The continuous support and teamwork from all aspects of the community has been essential in keeping this program productive for so long. We, the 100, are truly humbled, blessed,and highly appreciative of the efforts and dedication provided from all of our community supporters and sponsors.” This legacy of success of the Health Initiative for Men and Women, celebrating its 20th Anniversary Year, is due to the 100 Black Men of Rome-NWGA’s ongoing commitment to maintaining valuable relationships with community partners and advocating for our region’s most vulnerable.
In the event’s 15th year, the fair became known as the Health Initiative for Men and Women in an effort to combine with the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition’s Women’s Health Fair making a better use of community resources. This year the event will be held on Saturday, August 20th at the Floyd County Health Department (located at 16 E. 12th Street) from 8AM-12PM. Free screenings for blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer (FIT kits), cervical cancer (pap smears) and vision and dental screenings will be available. There will also be free at home COVID-19 tests and cloth masks given out on a first come, first served basis. The Floyd Mobile Mammography Unit will also be at the event. To make a mammogram appointment, please call (706) 509-6840 and choose “option 1.”
“Every year we find someone who requires follow up care. Several of our own 100 members have been screened and wereflagged for follow up”, said Mr. Adams.
For more information about the Health Initiative for Men and Women, call 706-204-8081.