‘Walk of Life’ a step well worth our taking
Aug 25, 2013 | 965 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is called the “Walk of Life” for a reason and its six-year outreach to the residents of our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown — the old, the young, the rich, the poor, the white and the black — is making a difference.

Its secret is not a mystery. Its objectives are true. Its rationale is not cause for debate.

It is all about knowledge. It is all about awareness. It is all about taking control.

We refer, of course, to the annual Walk of Life Health Fair which is again returning to the Bradley Square Mall compliments of an organization whose members make it a practice to provide for the needs of others — especially our community’s young people.

But on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc. will again extend its much-respected people mission from mentoring and scholarships to the physical, emotional and mental well-being of our community’s residents.

Jonathan Porter and Oscar Kelley, both of whom are longtime 100 BMBC members, are leading this year’s charge as “Walk of Life” co-chairs.

“Six years ago we expanded our mission with the start of the 100 BMBC Health Fair,” Porter recently told our newspaper in announcing this year’s initiative. “This was a way for us to be of service in addressing the health needs and concerns of individuals in our community.”

Kelley, whose civic-mindedness also extends into years of work on the Bradley County Election Commission, points out the health fair spotlights area health care providers and vendors in the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

But that’s not all.

“It is also an opportunity to present health information, take advantage of screenings and is an effort to help participants possibly identify health concerns and aid in reducing health care disparities,” the U.S. military veteran cited.

And, everything is free — even the heart-healthy snacks that are provided while participants browse through the collection of vendors and booths.

Types of screenings and services scheduled for the day — all under one roof in a one-stop setting — include: blood pressure testing, information on health care careers, dental screenings, diabetes education, end-of-life care, fitness education, health education, health insurance options, HIV/AIDS screenings, hospice services, home-health services, massage therapy, nutrition, organ donor information, prescription drug programs, prostate education, senior services and weight management.

As an added twist, the Health Fair also promotes another form of well-being. It is called involvement. Any local resident who is an eligible voter, but who is not registered, may do so at “The Walk of Life.”

Currently, event organizers are seeking sponsors, vendor and supplier participants, and donors. Five levels of sponsorships are available: Gold Level, $750; Silver Level, $500; Bronze Level, $250; Booth Only, $35; and General Donations.

Those wishing to get involved in “The Walk of Life” are urged to contact either Kelley at 423-479-6271 or Porter at 423-596-0740.

Since its 1994 charter, 100 Black Men of Bradley County has provided more than $500,000 in scholarships to deserving high school students in our community.

We have no record of the number of lives embraced, the collection of hearts touched and the array of paths guided by this people-first organization in its first 19 years. Such amounts surely would be staggering if they were put to paper.

But the members of 100 BMBC are not as concerned about measures based on quantity as they are on lives changed through outreach quality.

It is why “The Walk of Life” was given its first step.

It is why those who take the walk are taking great strides, not just for themselves but for loved ones of whose care they are entrusted.

We urge all — young and old, man and woman, rich and poor, black and white — to take this walk.

Like life, it is a long walk, but it is one well worth the taking.