By Mada McDonald
Weekly Press Contributing Writer
The 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk was held on Saturday, May 18, 2019. It was held at the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center located at 950 East Washington Street in Baton Rouge from 7:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
The event commenced with opening remarks from State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith. The welcome was given by Theta M. Williams, and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair. The opening prayer was led by the Reverend Dale Flowers of New Sunlight Baptist Church. Warm-up exercises were conducted by Theresa Townsend and the Sensational Seniors. The Walk was led by Grand Marshal Helen Turner Rutledge and the Michael Foster Project. Different arrangements of music were played, leading the crowd in Second Line renditions.
After the Walk, it was time to Talk. The Program began with Greetings, offered by Jeffery Corbin, Assistant Director of the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center. Delores Newman gave a soul stirring prayer, and a beautiful song was sung by Candace Addison, Soloist. The Walkers were then welcomed by Jared Hymowitz, as a representative of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s Office, and also by Theta M. Williams and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair of the SBR Wellness Committee.
Acknowledgments of the 2019 SBR Walk and Talk Committee were made. Grand Marshall and Committee Honorary Chair was Helen Turner Rutledge. She conceived of the 2018 South Baton Rouge Breast Cancer Walk and Health Fair. In her honor, she led the Walk riding in a fully decorated white Mercedes Benz. It was also her idea to host the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk. All of the SBR Wellness Committee members were also introduced.
Jeffery Corbin introduced the Keynote Speaker and the Panelists taking part in the discussion about various health concerns. The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Cordel Parris of Parris Cardiologist, CIS. The panel consisted of Dr. Rani “The Hip-Hop Doc” Whitfield, who served as the Panel Facilitator; Shirley Lolis, Executive Director of Metro Health Education; Dr. Burke Brooks, M.D., of the Ochsner Health Care System; and Randy Fontenot, speaking about Mental Health. Following the panel discussion, the attendees participated in a Q and A session.
Lunch was prepared and served by SBR Wellness Committee member Ann Brown Harris and her Supporting Angels. The meal was healthy and delicious.
There were18 vendors on-site from numerous and various groups and organizations giving out valuable information. Booths and tents were set up to meet and greet all attendees.
Outside, several mobile units were present: Cancer screenings - breast, prostate, and colorectal - were conducted by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center/Prevention On-the-Go Program; Mobile Mammography was done by Woman’s Hospital; HIV testing was provided by Metro Health in their clinic within the Leo Butler Community Center.
The East Baton Rouge Police Department provided on-site security. The walk began at the Leo Butler Community Center and proceeded up East Washington Street to Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, up to Louise Street, passing McKinley Middle Magnet School, leading to Thomas Delpit Drive, left in front of the McKinley Alumni Center, and back down to East Washington Street, to the Leo Butler Community Center where the walk ended.
In 2018, the focus of the South Baton Rouge event was Breast Cancer, which was an outstanding event. In 2019, the goal was to introduce healthy initiatives, health awareness tips and techniques to the participants. The primary concentrations of this year’s event were heart health, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS and mental health.
On May 18, 2019, a testimony that touched many touched and saved one life after a female had her mammogram screening. Immediately she was sent to one of the local hospitals for further testing, after having an abnormal screening result. Talk about “saving a life”.
Joseph London of “A Family Blessing” was the photographer for the event and captured all aspects of the Walk and Talk.
The South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk Committee members are as follows: Jacqueline Addison, Marian Addison, Jeffery D. Corbin, Jr., Jennifer Cortes, Linda Daniel, Jonathan Dearborn, Sandra Elbert, Ann Brown Harris, Jared Hymowitz, Cynthia Jones, Glinda Lang, Mada McDonald (Co-Chair), Dynnishea Miller, Helen Turner Rutledge, DeTrecia Singleton, Christine Sparrow, Rene Smith, Dr. Susan Thornton and Theta M. Williams (Chair).
All of the attendees and participants received a gift bag full of assorted items. Special thank you to all individuals, businesses, and organizations that provided the items for the bags in support of the event, and to the Baton Rouge Community for their support of the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk.