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Saturday Bike-a-Thon raises funds for prostate cancer research

LAPLACE — As summer heat gives way to the first cool fronts of fall, people in the River Parishes and beyond strap on their best pink attire in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

However, it is rare to see light blue awareness ribbons in support of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September. It’s something the Pirates Social Club hopes to change with a Saturday bike-a-thon for prostate cancer awareness, according to club president Michael Green Jr.

“Everyone does stuff for breast cancer awareness, but no one does things for prostate cancer,” Green said. “Men, you need them to be around. Some men are stubborn. They won’t listen and do the things they need to do. This is to help raise awareness for it.”

All are invited to come out with their bicycles to 194 Regala Park Rd. in Reserve at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. Starting at 9 a.m., a group of bikers will leave from Regala Park in a group and make an eight-mile round trip, stopping at Our Lady of Grace in Reserve as a halfway point.

Pirates Social Club members will set up hydration stations along the route, according Green. One of the club members will lead the group of bicyclers, and there will also be members in the middle and the group and at the end to make sure no one is left behind. A police escort will be provided for safety.

Registration is available onsite at 8 a.m., and donations will be accepted. Green plans to present a check to Ochsner following the event.

“All of the proceeds are going towards research for prostate cancer,” Green said. “We’re a nonprofit organization, so we’re not collecting anything for ourselves.”

When the group returns to Regala Park, participants will be met with jambalaya, drinks and friends. At 11 a.m., health professionals will arrive to bring more attention to prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one of every nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and it is more common in older, African American men.

Dr. Denise Johnson of Louisiana State University’s health system is coming out to the event, along with guest speaker Dr. Reginald Ross. Nurses will be onsite to check blood pressure, and attendees will have access to informational prostate cancer pamphlets.

The event has been in the works since January, and Pirates Social Club members have been busy handing out fliers across the region.

“We’re not trying to just make it a St. John thing,” Green said. “We’re trying to reach St. Charles, St. James, St. John, and if we can get to New Orleans, we’ll get that, too. It’s our first time doing it, but as the years evolve, we know it’s going to grow.”

Pirates Social Club Secretary Errol Manuel said the cause is especially important to the group because member Louis Gardner has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thankfully, he is doing well.

“We’re excited to bring it to the parish,” Gardner said. “One of our brothers has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, so we just want to bring awareness.”

Manuel has been a member of the Pirates Social Club since 1990. The group originally formed in 1982 as a softball team. As time went on and the members got older, the focus shifted away from softball.

According to Green, members of the Pirates Social Club are expected to perform 40 hours of community service. Members have given back to the local school system as hall and lunchroom monitors. Pirates Social Club has also assisted in painting the driveway at Our Lady of Grace.

Manuel said his favorite part is the friendship that bonds the group.

“The one thing I have enjoyed is the brotherhood we have developed over the years,” Manuel said. “We’ve had a lot of coming together to do things for the parish.”