Atmore’s Mark Rice finished his fourth Boston Marathon in April in an attempt to stay healthy, an issue on many minds as Father’s Day approaches during Men’s Health Month.

The road less traveled

Published 11:41am Saturday, June 16, 2012

In April Atmore businessman Mark Rice accomplished a goal only a hand full of people can claim-he completed the entire 26.2 mile Boston Marathon for the fourth time. Afterward Rice said maintaining his health was one reason for tackling such a huge undertaking-but that concern over his continued well-being, he said, was spurred on by his love, as a father, for his child.

Afterward Rice said maintaining his health was one reason for tackling such a huge undertaking-but that concern over his continued well-being, he said, was spurred on by his love, as a father, for his child.

“I suppose it is some realization that I am aging,” Rice said. “As I saw some things changing, I wanted to stay young and enjoy life. I have a six-year-old daughter, so that is a big part of my motivation to stay healthy for her. I also want to encourage people to choose to be healthy.”

And Rice is not alone in his concerns about maintaining his health. As Father’s Day approaches Sunday, many children will spend a happy day honoring dad, but many others who have lost their fathers will be left only with their memories. Ruth Harrell, director of the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County, said she wants to see children enjoy their fathers for as long as possible.

The Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County and the Escambia County Health Department have come together to present a workshop this week for Men’s Health Day.

The Coalition for Healthier Escambia was organized in 1994 in response to a need identified to address health issues in our county, Harrell said.

“The group was established by and continues to be supported by the Escambia County Healthcare Authority,” Harrell said. “The core membership of 15 members has met monthly for the past 18 years working to improve the health care services, providers and needs of the citizens of our county. The Coalition and the Escambia County Health Department have joined in a collaborative effort to sponsor Men’s Health Day in our county Thursday, June 14.”

Harrell said there will be a forum to address men’s health care needs at D.W. McMillan Hospital in Brewton in the Education Center from noon to 2 p.m.

“We will serve lunch and the general public is invited and encouraged to attend,” Harrell said. “The workshop planned will help bring the importance of healthy lifestyles and care into focus for men. Women do a good job with testing and screen for their health. Men don’t typically take the time to pay attention to their health. The opportunity to partner with the Health Department is a great chance for us to focus on teaching men how to be more mindful of their health.”

Ricky Elliott, director with the Escambia County Health Department, said the partnership is one he hopes will help stress the importance of health care for men.

“Statewide statistics show that men aren’t doing a good job with their health,” Elliott said. “Alabama has the third highest rate in the nation for prostate cancer deaths. We all know that if prostate cancer is caught early, there is a very good success rate. There are tests that can detect the cancer early, but most men don’t take the time to have those tests done.”

Harrell said Dr. Dan Raulerson is planned the keynote speaker.

June is national Men’s Health month and the Escambia County Commission recently approved a proclamation name the week of June 11-15 as Men’s Health Week in the county. The workshop is being offered free of charge.

With women like Harrell working hard on health awareness, and men like Rice setting an outstanding example, the future of fathers, and men in general, in Escambia County looks very healthy.

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