Various national basketball teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Phoenix Suns, are taking part in the Third Annual PCF Black History Month Assist Challenge.
“We are thrilled and honored that NBA teams have again joined our efforts in reaching out to save men’s lives,” Christine Jones, PCF’s chief operating officer, said in a press release.
In 2019, the Atlanta Hawks became the first NBA team to participate in the challenge, followed by six other teams in 2020. The Atlanta team has contributed $318,000 of the nearly $500,000 raised.
This year, the Hawks Foundation has pledged to donate $250 to the PCF for every assist (a pass that leads to scoring) that the Hawks register in games throughout February. Similarly, the Chicago Bulls Charities will donate their portion of 50/50 raffle earnings over a two-week period.
Money raised will help fund research that advances understanding of prostate cancer and to lessen the burden it places on patients, particularly on African-American men, who are disproportionately affected.
Black men are roughly 80% more likely to develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives than white men. They are also approximately 2.2 times more likely than white men to die from the cancer.
“This past year has put a spotlight on the need for more health equity programs to solve the cancer rate disparity issue in Black men,” Jones said. “During Black History Month, the NBA teams will help us bring awareness about the facts regarding prostate cancer, and what men need to do to know their risks and numbers.”
Beyond donations, teams will broadcast public service announcements over a variety of media to raise awareness about prostate cancer risks and the benefits of screening, or testing for the disease before any symptoms appear.
Diagnosing an illness early, through screening, can profoundly affect a person’s outcome. If caught and treated early enough, for instance, prostate cancer carries a nearly 100% survival rate after five years.
Last year, the PCF announced plans to develop an early detection test of its own called the Smith Polygenic Risk Test for Prostate Cancer. This non-invasive test uses a sample of a man’s saliva or blood to determine his lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer. The foundation expects the research contributing to this test to improve understanding of the genetic risk among Black men.
“Our partnership with PCF for the Black History Month Assist Challenge has made a significant impact on creating awareness for this important men’s health issue,” said Grant Hill, Hawks vice chair of the board and Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer. “Together, we can continue to educate our community and provide the resources needed to inspire men to take this disease seriously and possibly save lives.”
More information about the Black History Month Assist Challenge can be found here.