Seven years ago, Karol Brown started a health event centered around black women because she noticed a disparity in the education, prevention and detection opportunities for women of color. Today, the free annual event attracts more than 200 woman and young girls to come be educated, empowered and healthy.
On Oct. 8, the 7th Annual Women of Color Cancer & Health Awareness Day will be active, fun and educational as attendees participate in aerobic exercise, and learn about cancer prevention.
Entitled “Live, Laugh, Love” for this year’s event, Brown hopes to further increase the day’s impact for the women in the community by encouraging attendees to have fun while protecting themselves against a killer disease.
“I’ve been involved in some community efforts for breast cancer awareness, but they never seemed to have enough of African American women there to get the message,” Brown said. “I wanted to make (breast cancer prevention) more available to the African American community.”
The Bethlehem Baptist Church Nurses Ministry began sponsoring this event in October 2004 in response to the evidence of the disparity in health care and health awareness experienced among the black community at large.
Over the years, organizers have made a point to welcome all women - black or otherwise - to the valuable event, with the goal still being providing access to information for women who may otherwise not get it.
Brown said that although breast cancer is less common among black women, this population is more likely to experience the highest mortality rates after developing breast cancer. Having information on the importance of early detection and regular screenings could greatly help decrease that mortality rate, one of the many goals of the annual event.
The day begins at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast, opportunity for health screenings, massages and shopping at vendor booths.
At 9:15 a.m. attendees can participate in a 15-minute aerobic walk to get their hearts pumping and blood flowing for the day ahead, before the opening program led by speaker Natalie Ellington.
At 11 a.m., there will be a health workshop targeted specifically at teen girls, and at noon, keynote speaker and cancer survivor Dr. Rev. Roselyn Smith-Withers will share her story during the free lunch.
And to close the day is another opportunity for exercise with a Zumba class led by Donna Rayford.
Local comedian Tracy Davis will emcee the event with laughs along the way.
“Live laugh love… that’s all about living your life and enjoying it.
“People have fun, but at the same time, feel supported and to enjoy themselves and learn how to live happy,” Brown said. “I hope that they learn something new, feel support and are just empowered to make some change, or take some of the information that they’ve learned and to strive to be healthier.”
“Live Laugh Love” the 7th Annual Women of Color Cancer and Health Awareness day goes from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Family Life Center, 4818 Portland Ave. in Tacoma.