ATLANTA — Black History Month is just a few days away, and the Atlanta Hawks are using the time to help in the battle against a disease that puts African American men at higher risk.
Not only are men in the African American community more likely to fall victim to prostate cancer, they’re two-and-a-half times more likely to die from it.
David Lee, Executive Director of the Atlanta Hawks Foundation, said it’s an issue that can’t be ignored.
“With 80 percent of players in the NBA of African American descent, it just made perfect sense for us to have this conversation," he said.
It’s an issue that brings greater concern during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Black History Month, the Hawks will donate $250 to the Prostate Cancer Foundation every time a player registers an assist. Over the last two seasons, the Hawks have raised $318,000 to help the foundation’s efforts.
“We are thrilled and honored that the Hawks have joined our efforts in reaching out to save men’s lives,” said Christine Jones, Chief Operating Officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Lee said raising money is just part of the plan.
“Our best weapon is equipping people with information,” he said. “It’s really difficult to know what to do when you don’t have information.”
Historically, men are hesitant to go to the doctor for prostate cancer screenings. That is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute is part of the Hawks' effort to put minds at ease.
“Many men think prostate screening involves an uncomfortable testing procedure,” said Winship’s Dr. Bradley Carthon. “Screening is really done by blood testing, so that many men can be monitored and they don’t have to have an uncomfortable exam.”
The awareness campaign is directed at men and women. Often, wives are the key to convincing men to undergo prostate cancer screenings.
“The people who love you want you to be in their lives as long as you possibly can,” said Lee. “It all begins with an understanding and an awareness and then action.”
The Hawks were the first NBA team to take part in the Black History Month Assist Challenge. The Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Phoenix Suns have since taken part.
Stay up to date on the Hawks’ pledge total for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and find additional resources provided by Winship Cancer Institute by visiting Hawks.com/PCF.