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posted: 7/29/2014 3:10 PM

Scott's Walk raises awareness of testicular cancer

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  • Roughly 175 people participated in Sunday's Scott's Walk in south Naperville to raise awareness about testicular cancer.

      Roughly 175 people participated in Sunday's Scott's Walk in south Naperville to raise awareness about testicular cancer.
    Courtesy of Stephanie Penick

 

While driving home Sunday morning, I listened to a sports commentator on the radio say, "What a gorgeous day for golf!"

Mindful that I had just walked about 2 miles in Scott's Walk, I talked back.

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"It's also a gorgeous day for a brisk walk in the great outdoors."

And I couldn't help but think how very blessed our community is to have many natural settings and wide-open spaces graced this time of year with colorful wildflowers as well as fluttering butterflies and summer moths.

Just before 9 that morning, Gina Zager had welcomed 175 individuals to the sixth annual Scott's Walk, held this year at the Will County Forest Preserve District's Whalon Lake, just off Royce Road in south Naperville and accessible from the DuPage River Trail.

For about an hour, family, friends and first-time participants had been gathering at the picnic shelter to partake in a healthful assortment of refreshments as well as invigorating early morning conversation on a beautiful summer's day.

"Our son, Scott, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December of 2007," Zager said. "After several chemo sessions, surgeries, stem-cell transplants and hospital stays, he passed away in May of 2008."

Zager went on to talk about the importance of the walk in remembrance of her son.

"This walk is a chance to remember Scott, celebrate his life and support cancer awareness," she said.

Proceeds from the walk will benefit the Scott Zager Venture Fund at the College of Menominee Nation in Wisconsin, a fund supporting unique startup costs for the college on behalf of its students.

"The fund is something that Scott would be proud to be part of," she said.

Zager described the 2-mile walk around the 80-acre lake, reminding folks that the winding trail is shared with bicyclists.

"Please make sure to stay on the right half of the path at all times and be courteous to others," she advised.

She reminded everyone that hospitality also would be available after the walk.

And she added, "Leading our walk will be Scott's cousins."

I grabbed my camera and headed toward the large arch of yellow balloons that designated the start. And, indeed, cousins stepped onto the path.

Zager family friend Chuck Koch also was taking photos and we began walking the opposite route so we could capture the walkers as they approached us rather than from behind.

After the walk, when I became engaged in a conversation with Zager, more than ever I realized this walk truly is an effort to heighten awareness by spreading the facts about testicular cancer via the spirited, inquisitive memory of her son.

Zager said Scott had an amazing quest for knowledge. Whatever he learned, he was eager to share with others.

And she went on to explain the penguin character that has been emblazoned on the commemorative Scott's Walk T-shirt every year.

Penguin Computing, a company that "delivers integrated, Linux-based solutions for the enterprise and HPC space," had been attractive to Scott, who had been drawn to the company's mascot for representing openness to share information.

The image of the penguin on the T-shirt symbolizes learning.

When I understood the significance of the penguin, more than ever, I was drawn to help spread the word about the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer available online. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/testicular-cancer/basics/definition/con-20043068) Though considered rare, it's still the most common solid tumor diagnosed in young men between the ages of 15 and 34 years, according to the Mayo Clinic website. More than 8,000 young men are afflicted every year.

Scott's Walk aims to educate about the need for young men to perform a testicular self-examination monthly. While it may be a tough conversation to begin, self-examination is the best way to find a testicular tumor early.

Simply put, here's hoping you'll go with knowledge and share this information with the young men in your life.

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