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Walk Coming Up

Toledo’s 6th annual African American Male Wellness Walk – which will offer approximately 15 free health screenings for men and women along with fun for all ages – will be held Saturday, August 18 starting at 8 a.m. at 915 Collingwood Blvd.

The 5K walk/run will start at 10 a.m. Registration for the walk/run is free and available at www.aawalk.org/toledo.

Toledo Fire & Rescue Chief Brian Byrd, coordinator of Toledo’s African American Male Wellness Walk

Toledo Fire & Rescue Chief Brian Byrd established the Toledo walk to promote the importance of exercise and getting routine checkups to prevent illnesses. African American men, who typically do not seek healthcare for themselves, are encouraged to visit a doctor annually and to “know their numbers” – results for body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, prostate cancer and other health screenings done for free at the annual event.

“Healthy men make healthy families, and healthy families make a healthy community,” said Byrd, a Toledo native who was sworn in as Fire Chief on Aug. 3rd.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz is the Honorary Chair for Toledo’s African American Male Wellness Walk this year. About 600 screenings are performed by paramedics and other local health professionals every year.

The annual Toledo event is part of the National African American Male Wellness Initiative, which was founded in 2004 by John Gregory in Columbus. Of 829 men screened for blood pressure at events in Toledo, Columbus and five other cities last year, for example, less than 12% had normal results while more than half tested for pre-hypertension.

In Lucas County

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American men in Lucas County. Among major risk factors for heart disease, 57% of male African American Lucas County residents were overweight or obese, 37% had high blood pressure, 25% had diabetes. 21% had high blood cholesterol and 17% smoked, according to Healthy Lucas County’s 2016/2017 Lucas County Community Health Assessment.

While the Toledo event’s primary focus remains encouraging African American men to prevent illnesses, people from all races, ethnicities and genders are welcome to get free screenings – and have fun while being physically active, Byrd said.

“It’s not just for black men. It’s for everybody,” Byrd said. “We all need to take care of our health and support everyone in the community.”

Healthcare organizations are invited to set up informational displays at the event for free. For more information, call 567-694-6393.

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