Home Prostate / Prostate Cancer Cruisin’ for a Cure celebrates 20 years of raising prostate cancer awareness

Cruisin’ for a Cure celebrates 20 years of raising prostate cancer awareness

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For the 20th year, a fleet of classic cars revved their engines Saturday in a collective roar for prostate cancer awareness during Cruisin’ for a Cure at the OC Fair & Event Center.

While the main goal is to encourage men to get tested for prostate cancer, the event also draws more than 3,500 vintage cars — and their owners, buyers and admirers — to the Costa Mesa fairgrounds for a day of old-fashioned fun.

Debbie Baker, 66, created the event in 1999 after her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, more than 10,000 men have received free tests, and at least 3,000 of them later underwent further testing that, in many cases, prevented the spread of prostate cancer.

“It gives me goosebumps when somebody walks up to me at the show and says, ‘Thanks for saving my life last year,’” Baker said.

Baker remembers one time when she approached a man and asked if he had gotten the blood test. He protested that he was too young, but she shook her head and dragged him to get tested. They soon discovered he had an aggressive form of cancer.

Fifteen years later, because of the early detection, he is cancer-free.

“Every time I see him, he calls me his guardian angel,” Baker said. “He always tells me every time he’s got another grandbaby … if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t be able to see his 12th grandkid.”

About 85 volunteers, some of them cancer survivors, signed up to help at the event, and 175 vendors filled the fairgrounds. Guests strolled through, pausing to marvel at the array of hot rods — “big man toys,” as Baker calls them.

Jeff Perlman, who helped promote Cruisin’ for a Cure, is a prostate cancer survivor himself. He said the event offers an opportunity to share with other survivors, raise money and awareness for a good cause and praise the efforts of a hard-working community organizer.

“It’s kind of a badge of honor to say I’m a survivor here,” Perlman said. “This strikes close to home.”

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