MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An organization is doing its part to increase the life expectancy of African American men and raise awareness through the third annual Memphis African American Male Wellness 5K.

Dozens of men walked and ran through downtown Memphis for lives Saturday morning. The goal was to gather in numbers, to learn their numbers.

Leonard Watkins is the organizer for the third annual 2023 Memphis African American Male Wellness 5K Walk and Run.

“You know a healthy man and a healthy woman helps provide a healthy home and that’s why we’re out here today,” said Watkins.

The African American Male Wellness Agency says its goal is to increase the life expectancy for black men by reducing disparities in premature death and chronic diseases. 

Watkins says one way they’re doing that is by offering free health screenings to those in the community in order to close that gap.

“Closing the gap means giving people the opportunity to live a longer, healthier life such as some of our counterparts are afforded to have. A lot of African Americans don’t have the resources, the funds, or the knowledge on getting to doctors or having a primary care physician,” said Watkins.

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Two of the people leading the charge are Mayor-Elect Paul Young and Memphis Tigers Men’s Basketball Head Coach Penny Hardaway.

“I know how easy it is as a black man to try to push things off to later, but it makes much more sense for us to make sure that we can get our blood pressure checked by doing the screenings that can save our lives,” said Young.

Participants say it’s all about elevating awareness. 

“I actually feel like this is something that’s overdue for our community, especially for black men of all ages,” said Miguel Hayes, a participant in the event.