Don Koz knows men don’t spend a lot of time talking about their health.
And when they do, the Bloomingdale resident says, “we certainly don’t talk about our prostates.”
That has to change, he says, and he’s a living and breathing example of why.
A retired federal agent who served 31 years in law enforcement, Koz was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002 as a result of pretests taken before a vasectomy.
Now, as a cancer survivor, he’s committed to making sure men know the importance of being educated about prostate health.
“Men need to know they can survive this and still have a healthy, active lifestyle,” Koz says.
For 12 years, the Bloomingdale resident has participated in theSEA Blue Prostate Cancer Walk/Run, which is slated for Sunday in Lincoln Park. This year, Koz has the special role of representing first responders on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“This is a very special honor for me because I’ve learned that our police and fire responders carry a much higher rate of prostate cancer than many other professions,” Koz says. “So I’ve kind of made it my thing to be my friends’ go-to guy on the topic. The more info we get out, the better it will be.”
He’s also never missed the event. He walked at the very first one shortly after having prostate surgery in 2005.
Blue is to prostate cancer as pink is to breast cancer and “SEA” represents the Support, Education & Advocacy that the event aims to provide to the prostate cancer community.
The walk will take place from 8 a.m. to noon in Lincoln Park, at LaSalle and Stockton on Chicago’s lakefront.
In addition to the tradition of honoring prostate cancer survivors as warriors and guardians of the next generation, the festivities will thank first responders in recognition of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
“Like most first responders, I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit,” Koz says. “So this will be quite the honor Sunday.”
Prostate cancer survivor and former major league baseball player Ken Griffey Sr. also will be there to remind men to speak up about prostate cancer.
Organizers say proceeds will help fund the work of Us TOO International(www.ustoo.org), a nonprofit group that provides free educational resources and support services to men with prostate cancer and their families.
“There’s an urgent need for prostate cancer support, education and advocacy here in Chicagoland and across the country,” says Us TOO CEO Chuck Strand. “Within the next eight years, the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is estimated to increase from nearly 3 million today to 4.2 million as Baby Boomers age.”
Leading up to the event, participants have raised money through donations from family and friends to support their commitment to run or walk as an individual or as a member of a team. Event registration is $40 for a 5K adult runner, $35 for an adult walker, $25 for a 5K child runner, and $20 for a child walker.