By JEFF POHJOLA
KIRO Radio (link below
to Jeff's report
If you're heading to a
high school football game Friday night, you'll notice something a
Thrown by the
officials to indicate a penalty, the flags have been a staple of the
game since its inception, but Friday night they're going to be blue.
"I was trying to come
up with a way last year to promote some of the cancer research that
we're doing at Fred Hutch and I met with the Seattle Seahawks and
Kevin Griffin, they're great community relations manager there, and
we were kicking around some ideas. He said 'What if the referees to
use blue flags to kind of highlight prostate cancer," said Juan
Cotto, head coach at Highline High School in Burien and works at the
Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center.
Photo by Dale Garvey Photography
Cotto says the flags
are in memory of Terry Ennis, the legendary football coach at Arch
Bishop Murphy, who died of prostate cancer. "He had great wisdom and
really was a supporter of developing young people."
One of the organizers,
referee Jason Capps, says the idea has really taken off. "All over
the state this weekend will be blue flags."
Each official is
donating to the cause.
"How do you pay for
1,200 flags that are $6 a piece? All the officials in the
association agreed to pay for them themselves," said Capps.
Even though the
program is only in its second year, Cotto says it has already saved
"We heard from men who
went out and got their first prostate examinations, but more
importantly, I heard from a lot of wives who finally said 'Hey, my
husband went out and got a prostate cancer exam because they saw the
blue flags in the games," said Cotto.
School football officials throughout the state of Washington will
raise the profile of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month by replacing
traditional yellow penalty flags with blue flags during varsity
games played on September 17-19, 2009.
September is National Prostate Cancer
Awareness Month. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation,
prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America,
affecting one in six men. One new case occurs every 2.5
minutes and a man dies from prostate cancer every 19 minutes. It is
estimated that there are more than two million American men
currently living with prostate cancer.
Screening for prostate cancer can
be performed in a physician’s office using two tests: the PSA
(prostate-specific antigen) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE).
The American Cancer Society recommends that both the PSA and DRE
should be offered annually, beginning at age 50.
Men at high risk, such as African
American men and men with a strong family history of one or more
first-degree relatives diagnosed at an early age, should begin
testing at age 45. [View
Flyer (321k PDF)]