African American Male Wellness Walk, health fair set for Aug. 16Written by Chase Will | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The second annual African American Male Wellness Walk (AAMWW) on Aug. 16 will include free health screenings.
At last year’s event, a woman was transported to the hospital after an EKG exam revealed she was in the beginning stages of a heart attack.
“The lady had been having shortness of breath for a couple weeks and didn’t think anything of it,” said Deputy Chief Brian Byrd of Toledo Fire & Rescue Department.
Byrd is chairman of the Toledo chapter of AAMWW, which started in Columbus 10 years ago. After attending the Columbus event in 2012, Byrd decided to bring the event to Toledo.
Byrd said America has become the fattest country in the world due to sedentary habits, and the five-mile walk is a noncompetitive way to kick-start a healthy lifestyle.
AAMWW’s mission is to spread awareness of health concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.
According to Byrd, 80 percent of calls to Toledo Fire & Rescue department pertain to preventable health issues.
“The fire department has become a lot of people’s primary health care provider. They call 911 over things people should go to the doctor for,” Byrd said.
Although men and women of all ages may participate in the five-mile run/walk, the event specifically addresses African-American men because data shows they’re at higher risk for preventable diseases.
“Oftentimes it’s a matter of access to care, and those living in the margins are overlooked,” said Jessica Schultz, manager of community health needs at Mercy Health Partners.
“While everyone else’s average expected lifespan is going up, ours is going down and stagnating. That’s very scary,” said Byrd, who is black.
Schultz will help administer health screenings at this year’s the event, and Byrd encourages the community to take advantage of the opportunity to know their health status.
“There’s a grad student from [Bowling Green State University] who will be passing out surveys to participants, asking for some of them to participate in a follow-up program,” Byrd said. “These people would then agree to share whatever parts of their screening they’re comfortable sharing, and they’d partner with Mercy to come up with a program to address these results.”
Sponsorship levels ranging from $250-$2,500 are available for anyone interested in helping the initiative grow.
Since its inception, AAMWW has also expanded to Youngstown, Warren and Dayton.
According to Byrd, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has declared August Ohio’s African American Male Wellness Month as a result of the AAMWW initiative.
The event will also include entertainment such as fitness demonstrations, line dancing, bounce houses for children and cheerleaders.
AAMWW takes place at 1326 Collingwood Blvd. Health screenings start at 8 a.m., and the walk starts at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Byrd at (567) 298-9689 or visit aawalk.org/toledo/.