British rock band Dire Straits popularized an original lyrical version of “Walk of Life” in the mid-’80s, but a Bradley County civic organization with a heart for children is taking its own walk to a whole new level.
It’s called the “Walk of Life Health Fair” and 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc. is bringing it to the Cleveland community for the seventh consecutive year.
Set for Bradley Square Mall, the annual health fair will be held Saturday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to longtime 100 BMBC members Jonathan Porter and Oscar Kelley, who are again co-chairing the popular community event.
Although the summer-ending, autumn-launching fair is still more than three weeks away, the deadline for sponsor and vendor registration is nearing. Groups or individuals involved in the health care industry, and who want to bring their services and messages to the “Walk of Life,” have until Aug. 29.
“The health fair spotlights area health care providers and vendors in the medical and pharmaceutical industry,” Porter said. “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.”
An important reminder, which is one of the premises of the activity, is “... all services are provided free to the public,” Kelley added.
On paper it sounds simple, but in reality organizing a community event of this size is labor-intensive. That’s why 100 BMBC relies on heavy participation from the health care community.
Participants in the market for some of the free health screenings are always there, but the health fair’s success is maximized by a strong turnout of sponsors and vendors, as well as individual contributors and booths, Porter said.
“This is no small undertaking and it takes sponsors working in tandem with our organization to accomplish the goals of being of service to our community,” Kelley pointed out. “Tax-deductible contributions allow us to provide this service at no cost to those who attend the health fair.”‘
Sponsorship numbers are growing and will continue to grow over the next few days. This year, the GRAAB Coalition (Going Respectively Against Addictive Behaviors) will serve as a Gold sponsor. Delta Dental has signed on as a Silver sponsor, Porter noted.
Commitment levels include Gold sponsor, $750; Silver, $500; Bronze, $250; Booth only, $35; and individual donations are also accepted.
Donations are used exclusively toward health fair costs; however, in the event that any contributions are not needed toward project expenses, they will be transfered into 100 BMBC’s scholarship program. Since its 1994 charter, the local organization has provided more than half-a-million dollars in scholarships to deserving area high school students, Porter and Kelley stressed.
Unique to this year’s health fair is a “drug drop-off” campaign which is sponsored by the GRAAB Coalition, Porter said. It is similar in format to the Drug Take-Back events coordinated through the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
Outdated or unused prescription or over-the-counter drugs can be delivered by families participating in the health fair.
“We encourage all health-care providers to contact us to join this health fair endeavor as we try to make the public aware of health issues,” Porter said. “We are encouraging full community participation in our effort to engage the community as a whole.”
That means the “Walk of Life” health fair, although it is sponsored by 100 BMBC, is open to anyone and both genders regardless of race, culture, religion or political influence.
Types of screenings expected to be on hand at the annual health fair include blood pressure, dental, HIV/AIDS and others. A variety of booths and additional services will be provided such as careers in health care, diabetes education, end-of-life care, fitness education, health education, health insurance options, hospice services, home health services, massage therapy, nutrition, organ donor information, prescription drug programs, prostate education, senior services and weight management.
As always, the health fair will include voter registration and education for Cleveland and Bradley County residents.
Services, medical professionals and other health-related operations who want to have a presence at the “Walk of Life,” or to obtain further information, may contact either Kelley at 423-479-6271 or Porter at 423-596-0740.
Checks or money orders should be made payable to: The 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc., P.O. Box 5677, Cleveland TN 37320-5677 c/o Mr. Michael Benson (100 BMBC treasurer).
“Seven years ago we expanded our mission with the start of the 100 BMBC Health Fair,” Porter noted. “This was a way for us to be of service in addressing the health needs and concerns of individuals in our community.”
Kelley pointed to the importance of prevention for staying healthy.
“Prevention is all about awareness and awareness is promoted through screenings and education,” Kelley stressed. “The 100 Black Men of Bradley County is a longtime believer in education, whether it is through academics or health awareness.”
Porter and Kelley urged health care professionals to consider sponsorships or to have an on-site presence, and they encouraged a strong public turnout to the “Walk of Life.”
Questions about 100 BMBC, its mission, and its community and youth services may be directed to 423-284-6602.