Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Support "Protect the Pecs" in February

Protect the Pecs founder and director Steve Del Gardo (far left) at the Cincinnati Reds Give Back Game with Rich Whitford, Dr. Herzong, and Brian Thomas. 

Go ahead and bust out your calendars, we need to talk about your plans for Wednesday, February 4, 2015. On February 4, you can choose to have lunch at your desk with some boring combination of lunch meat and cheese while trying to avoid your boss. Maybe for dinner you can heat up the previous night's mushy leftovers. Or you can catch up with friends over a heaping pile of buffalo wings while your favorite sports teams battle it out in the background. Need more convincing? Okay, here you go: dining at the Newport BW3 location will feature more than just chicken wings and beer on February 4. Your food and drink orders will also help to support male breast cancer. I'll just wait here for a moment while you add "BW3" to your schedule on February 4. 

Protect the Pecs is a local male breast cancer support organization that was created by cancer survivor Steve Del Gardo. Protect the Pecs will be hosting their Eat Wings, Raise Funds event from 11:00am until 1:00am on February 4, 2015. Patrons just need to tell their waiter or waitress that they are there to support Protect the Pecs, and 10% of the total bill will be added to their fundraising efforts. 


When Protect the Pecs' founder and director Steve Del Gardo was diagnosed with male breast cancer in November 2012, he was disappointed by the lack of information available on his condition. "On some major breast cancer foundation websites, information on male breast cancer was only a few sentences. That is it. Then reading more about the money being spent on breast cancer research started to make me feel angry inside. For instance, for the past 30 years, over $3 Billion has been spent on research for women with this cancer, but not one penny was spent on clinical studies or research for men with breast cancer," said Del Gardo. He then decided that male breast cancer patients were in desperate need of a support system, and set out to create Protect the Pecs. 

After his cancer diagnosis, Del Gardo looked to Protect the Pecs as his chance to change the public's understanding of breast cancer. "Then I started to see all the Pink Ribbons on every item in the stores and seeing on tv with NFL and MLB which I said to myself that I need to change people to let them know that it isn't just pink anymore. We are the blue in the sea of pink. We are not going to be quiet anymore, We are not going to be silenced, We are here to tell you that men can get breast cancer, too," said Del Gardo. 

Del Gardo and the Protect the Pecs team has organized successful fundraisers in the past, and are looking forward to raising more money in 2015. "Back in September of 2014, Cincinnati Reds had a Give Back Game for Protect The Pecs, I threw out the ceremonial first pitch. We had over 800 people in the stands wearing Pink and Blue to support men and women's fight against cancer. This year in 2015, we decided to partner with other local foundations in the area to get a greater impact on awareness," said Del Gardo. Along with the BW3 fundraiser on February 4, Protect the Pecs is working on planning fundraisers throughout 2015. Some of the events currently in the works include a pub crawl hosted along with the Testicular Cancer Society, a Protect the Pecs night at a Florence Freedom game, and an ice cream social at Graeter's.  

In addition to the fundraising events, Del Gardo has big plans for the Protect the Pecs organization. "I see this organization as being the voice for all men that are facing this cancer. Be their champion when it comes to changing people's behavior towards us men, whether taking the fight to D.C. to get more funding directed to helping men with this cancer to building a Wellness Center for men to treat all cancers. I want this foundation to be the Komen foundation for men," said Del Gardo.  

Protect the Pecs is actively working to support all aspects of male breast cancer - from spreading awareness to raising the funds needed to create gift bags for men currently fighting breast cancer. "I need items such as fleece tie blankets, baseball caps or skull caps, inspirational sport movies, music, and gym bags to put the items in," said Del Gardo.  

It's no secret that difficult times have the power to bring out the best or worst in a person. Luckily for the male breast cancer community, Del Gardo was able to turn his cancer diagnosis into a a story of strength, empowerment, and advocacy. "Getting cancer was a blessing in disguise since it enlightened me to do more for men with this type of cancer. It gave me my true calling.  At this time, I am a Peer Support Navigator with the Friends For Life Network. So I help men all over the USA that are going through this journey. They need to know that they are not alone and I am there to offer support," said Del Gardo. 

You can find out more about Protect the Pecs and their fundraising events by visiting their website

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