Piedmont Henry announces Real Men Wear Pink lineup

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

With October just around the corner, a group of men with a message are teaming up with Piedmont Henry Hospital for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This year’s participants in the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign. Special photo

The hospital has announced the participants in this year’s Real Men Wear Pink Campaign. The annual effort is geared toward promoting early detection of breast cancer, and enables men in the program to educate the public about the need for screenings and mammograms.

The men selected for this year’s campaign include: James Williams, of Connecting Henry; Billy Thompson, Executive General Manager of Truett’s Grill; Champ Leddon, a junior at Locust Grove High School; Brian Andrews, of State Farm; Joey Powell, of Proactive Rehab, Inc.; the Rev. William Bert Neal III, pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church; David Mann, president of Strong Rock Christian School; Hugh Bertschin, of Premier Elevator; Jody Ray, pastor of Stockbridge First United Methodist Church; and Joey Forte’, a registered nurse at Piedmont Henry.

Each of the participants cites connections to breast cancer that led them to join in the fight. Thompson, for instance, says breast cancer has affected his life both personally and professionally.

“My business mentor lost his wife to breast cancer seven years ago,” says Thompson. “It was a huge loss due to her influence in our community and the Chick-fil-A family. Because of this, I support the significance of educating the public on the importance of early detection.”

Andrews owns the Brian Andrews State Farm Agency in McDonough. He says he wants to help raise awareness about a disease that affects one in eight women.

“When a close friend of the family was diagnosed with no warning signs and at a very young age, it was scary,” he says. “I want to do something about it.”

For Mann, the issue of breast cancer hits even closer to home. He got involved in the campaign as a way to honor the memory of his mother, who lost her battle against the disease.

“Having been personally impacted by my mother’s very late diagnosis of breast cancer and resulting death after a four-year battle, it is even more personal for me to express the importance of early detection interventions,” says Mann.

Leddon is among the youngest people ever chosen locally for Real Men Wear Pink. He hopes his involvement will help the hospital to tap into a younger audience for the campaign.

“I want the students and faculty to know that your health or the well-being of the loved ones around you should never be taken for granted,” says Leddon.

Rev. Neal and Pastor Ray are continuing the involvement of area churches in the fight against breast cancer. Neal emphasized the need for early detection, saying prevention sometimes comes down to the health choices made by patients.

“Some cancers can be found early through a routine annual checkup and mammogram,” says Neal. “As a pastor, I frequently counsel with people about making choices. The more I know, the more information I can provide or at least know where to refer people for additional information and assistance.”

Pastor Ray says keeping women informed about their risk of breast cancer is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.

“I believe it is imperative to educate and spread awareness of the importance screening has on decreasing the death rates among women diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Ray.