High School Sports

Marathon promotes healthy lifestyles and cancer prevention

TUSKEGEE, Ala. — The Healthy Lifestyle Cancer Awareness and Prevention Program will sponsor a marathon for cyclists, runners and walkers on April 5.

The marathon will feature prizes for first-, second- and third-place finishes. The event will begin at 8 a.m. CDT April 5, at the Thomas Reed Ambulatory Care Center at 908 E. Water Street in Tuskegee.

According to project literature, the program is designed to inform residents in Macon County and surrounding areas about cancer and steps that can be taken for prevention or reduce mortality rates of patients.

Members of the community are “team leaders” that literally take their teachings to the streets.

The project stems from Tuskegee University’s Bioethics Center’s partnership with the University of Alabama Birmingham and the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. The schools have collectively received a U54 federal grant to conduct their studies.

“This is the second year for this marathon,” said Vivian Carter, principal investigator for the study. “Again, this is a community-guided program. They decide the routes, them and other ideas.”

The marathon is part of several activities community members and the University have coordinated to raise awareness of health disparities in the Black Belt region. Among the community members who are part of the Tuskegee leg of the federal study is Johnnie C. Cook, a nurse and the community health adviser for the project.

“Participants (in the study) are compliant with the program,” Cook said. “It is very effective in setting guidelines for the community.”

And the community takes notice. Cook said it is not rare that people in the community stop to ask for advice and commend participants in the study for “looking healthy.”

“This project allows us to be role models,” Cook said.

Carter agrees: “These women are excellent examples of leaders. They are politically active, concerned about restaurants. In fact, one of the restaurants that has progressed is the eatery in the Kellogg Conference Center right here on Tuskegee’s campus. The restaurant has been making more visible signs that its foods contain no trans fat.”

Nine community members and University staff are participating in the two-year study. Two nurses, including Cook, assist with monthly check-ins on weight and blood pressure. They also can direct participants with specific needs to appropriate physicians.