HARLINGEN — Dean Garza is passionate about promoting men’s health, especially when it comes to raising awareness about the importance of medical screenings that can save a person’s life.
After all, he experienced first-hand the physical struggles and emotional toll a cancer diagnosis can have not only on the individual, but also on family and friends.
“If they need somebody to take them to their doctor’s appointment, contact me through cell phone, on Facebook, on messenger, and I will go with them to their doctor’s appointment,” said Garza, Clinical Service Director for Cameron County Public Health, who battled colon cancer two years ago and is now in remission.
“Some people don’t have the support that I did, and if they need me to be their support, then I will go with them. Just get tested, no matter what.”
In an effort to bring awareness to preventable health problems among men, Texas Oncology-Harlingen and Cameron County Public Health are partnering once again with Bass Pro Shops on Saturday starting at 7 a.m. to host the Third Annual Blue Tie Day Men’s Health Expo, featuring a 5K run and a 1-mile “Walk with your Sweetie.”
Entry fee for the 5K run is $25 (fee goes up to $30 starting tomorrow) and $10 for the 1-mile fun walk. All proceeds benefit Texas Oncology patients in Cameron County and the Texas Oncology Foundation.
“We want to encourage families to come out and walk with that important man in their lives, whether it’s their dad, grandpa, brother, and either in remembrance of, in support of or in honor of,” said Veronica Ramirez, Health Educator with Cameron County Public Health. “Too many men are losing their lives to preventable diseases, and cancer will strike one in three men in their lifetimes. If we can save one life, that’s what our work is all about.”
The family-friendly health expo, which will last until 11 a.m., will feature more than 50 vendors, activities for children and most important, free medical advice, information and health screenings, such as blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
Texas Oncology will also offer free prostate cancer (PSA) screenings through a blood draw for men 50 years or older. According to Ramirez, the screening takes about 3 minutes and the confidential results will be mailed.
“They won’t ask for anything,” she said. “You don’t need insurance information. You don’t need to bring any medical plan information. It’s a free service so that men can be aware if they have that antigen, if it’s high or if it’s normal.”
Now in its third year, the Blue Tie Day Men’s Health Expo, created in Cameron County by Health Administrator Esmeralda Guajardo and Sylvia Marroquin from Texas Oncology-Harlingen, is organized to coincide with National Men’s Health Month, National Men’s Health Week and of course, Father’s Day.
In addition, state Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. and State Rep. Alex Dominguez sponsored a bill that was recently signed by Gov. Greg Abbott to designate June 13 as Blue Tie Day across Texas.
“Even though it started here in Cameron County, we wanted to go Texas-wide and even nation-wide to make people aware about the importance of not neglecting your health,” Ramirez said. “Don’t wait until it’s too late.”
June 13 is Blue Tie Day
• Beginning in 2020, June 13 was designated as Blue Tie Day in Texas by a bill recently signed by Gov. Abbott, sponsored by Sen. Lucio and Rep. Dominguez.
• Share your photos wearing a blue tie to the Cameron County Public Health Facebook page or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
If You Go
WHAT: Third Annual Blue Tie Day Men’s Health Expo
WHEN: Saturday, June 15
WHERE: Bass Pro Shops, 101 Bass Pro Drive in Harlingen
TIME: Health Expo, 6:30 – 11 a.m.; 5K, 7 a.m., 1-mile walk (wave 1), 8 a.m., 1-mile walk (wave 2), 8:30 a.m.
COST: Health expo is free. 5K, $25 ($30 starting tomorrow). 1-mile walk, $10
REGISTRATION: www.facebook.com/cameroncountyhealth or call (956) 247-3685