Island Prostate Centre executive director Leanne Kopp,second from left, joins Blue Tie committee members, from left, Larry Kostyk, Steve Boyle, George Kenno and Mitch Freko for this year’s Blue Tie Golf Day at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville. — Submitted by George Kenno

Free prostate screenings coming to Parksville

Blue Tie Men’s Health Day returns funds raised in annual golf tourney

In the four years a group of Parksville men have hosted the Blue Tie Golf Classic at Morningstar Golf Club, they have raised more than $100,000 for the Island Prostate Centre in Victoria.

This weekend, some of that money comes home.

Leanne Kopp, the prostate centre’s executive director, announced last week it will host free PSA screenings for men in the first Blue Tie Men’s Health Day this Saturday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Parksville Curling Club in Community Park.

“When people are donating and participating in events, usually the money is going to a local organization,” said Kopp. “For us, all funds raised on the Island stay on the Island. So, how can some of those dollars raised in that community impact people in that area?”

Thanks to a $34,000 haul in the fourth annual Blue Tie Classic, the prostate centre, which serves prostate cancer victims and their families from across the Island, will partner with the Blue Tie organizers for the first time on a prostate cancer screening in the city.

“We did do a testing day about three years ago, working with the Parksville AM Rotary Club,” said Kopp. “This is our first time in partnership with Blue Tie.”

The seeds for the Blue Tie event were planted in 2013 by George Kenno. In recovery from a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer and with the “Movember” men’s health month underway, Kenno convinced 15 fellow golfers to pony up $100 each for a mini-tournament.

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The $1,600 raised that year was sent to the Canadian Cancer Society. A short time later, Kenno was in Victoria for treatment when he stumbled upon the Island Prostate Centre, and it sparked the idea to start a real fundraising tournament the following year.

He found willing partners in fellow prostate cancer survivors Mitch Freko, Steve Boyle and Larry Kostyk, and the group hosted the first Blue Tie Golf Day in 2014, raising $11,500 for the Island Prostate Centre. That total jumped to $24,500 the following year, $30,385 in 2016 and a record $34,000 in last month’s 2017 version.

“We’ll hear from people who tell us, ‘Oh, we should do something to help,’” Kopp told The NEWS in a 2015 interview. “Then we never hear from them again. George walked the talk.”

Saturday’s free screenings will be followed by a community talk on prostate cancer and awareness, by prostate centre resource nurse Connie Degenstein starting at noon, said Kopp.

No pre-registration is required for Saturday’s screenings, which the Island Prostate Centre has held in Victoria for the past 16 years.

“If we can test upward of 100 men, that would be great,” said Kopp. “I think more and more in a situation like this, where it’s becoming so hard to find a family physician, it’s so important but it’s not getting done.

“It takes less than five minutes to get it done — and it’s free,” Kopp added. “Everybody likes free.”

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