Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Day of Historic Proportions

The Tampa Bay Rays made history Thursday.

No, it wasn't just that they had Mark Buerhle throw a perfect game at them on the road in Chicago.

It was that they allowed us to partner with them to host our 2nd Annual free PSA screening at Tropicana Field at the same time.

Unlike last August 26th, when it was held outside, this was inside the stadium rotunda.

When the doors swung open at 7AM, there were approximately 75 men ready for their blood tests and digital rectal exams, courtesy of Zero, the Project to End Prostate Cancer and the heralded Moffitt Cancer Center.

When the doors to the screening closed at 3PM, we had tested 685 men, shattering this organization's record of 317 established with the Rays last year.

With waits of at least 90 minutes and frequently more than two hours, countless men were forced to leave the line to return to work while others showed up but turned around because of the line. The consensus was, had we not been overwhelmed, we easily would have screened upwards of 800 men.

Of those that were there, as they say at the beginning of "Law and Order," these are their stories.

There was Ron Yougman, who lost an uncle to prostate cancer.

The doctors found a lump inside Dave Miller and they told Jose Rivera he had to go straight to the hospital.

John Martinov heard my interview on The Fabulous Sports Babe's show late Wednesday morning and was inspired to attend.

Steve Simone came because he saw a story about the upcoming testing on Channel 10 in Tampa.

Jimmy Holland's son has an enlarged prostate. Dad accompanied his son.

Greg Laprete came even though he's only 34, well before the prostate cancer demographic of 40.
He's a commercial fisherman who has no insurance and only showed up because our screening was free.

Another young guy was Robert Delgado, age 32. His father, "never sick a day in his life" was diagnosed with prostate cancer. "He had no symptoms and told me to get down here."

Bruce Field thought he also better come. His grandfather, father and father's brother all were stricken with prostate cancer.

Walter Walker was there because his grandfather had prostate cancer.

Tracy Walters was in attendance after being laid off.

Aubrey Lynch's father was diagnosed with prostate cancer just two weeks ago. He has no health insurance and told me "this means the world to me."

Reynoldo Lopez came with three little kids in tow and a baby carriage for Julio. His wife, Monica, was holding tiny Julio, one month old, who just underwent heart surgery.

Dan Rushnock was there. His father and older brother had prostate cancer.

There was Ray Curley, Frank and Elizabeth Biscotto, John Beggins and Vince Walker, each former NYPD, Rod Skaggs, Tom Gianitsis and Roger Mogle all returning from last year, Pete Cuttie, Jimmy Pappas, Tom Shelton, Dave Carron, Chris Howard and Mike Martoushi.

And then there was Chuck Haynes.

He attended last year's event, standing in line with Rays' broadcaster, Todd Kalas, and took a PSA exam. His PSA was three. It had never been over three and he though he was home free.

On Thursday, he told me I encouraged him at that time to also take the digital exam since he was already there.

The results of that exam revealed prostate cancer.

In a very emotional conversation, he said, "Ed Randall, you saved my life."

Please help me welcome our new poster boy for Ed Randall's Bat for the Cure, Chuck Haynes.

You'll be seeing plenty of him shortly.

Words nearly fail me to adequately express what I fell in my heart, to thank all those whose efforts made this an event a\the success it was.

That includes Tom Hoof, Suzanne Murchland, Leslie Tieszen and Rich Herrera at the ballclub, Skip Lockwood at Zero, Mary Coffeen and Cody Northrup and the doctors and nurses at Moffitt.

It was our greatest day ever.

Until the next one.

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