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Driving for zero

Cruisin' for a Cure is back to test men for prostate cancer.

September 16, 2010|By Candice Baker
  • Debbie Baker on her celebrated golf cart at a past Cruisin' for a Cure car show.
Debbie Baker on her celebrated golf cart at a past Cruisin'… (Debbie Baker, Daily…)

Each September she's a familiar sight at the Orange County Fairgrounds, whizzing by in a golf cart saturated in patriotic bling, while inspecting men's arms for a telltale bandage or cotton ball.

For Orange County resident and Cruisin' for a Cure founder Debbie Baker, the annual (and wildly popular) car show serves two purposes: entertainment and prevention. Her mission is to ensure that every man of "a certain age" who attends the event is tested for prostate cancer — via a simple, free blood test; not the probing digital test that most men abhor.

While not related to Baker, I have a father and a grandfather who are both prostate cancer survivors, and who attend the event each year to have their group photo taken with other survivors. It's a moment of pride and solidarity for them, at one of the world's largest custom, hot rod and specialty car shows for charity. All proceeds benefit the City of Hope's prostate cancer program.

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The day includes more than 3,500 cars (including my father's 1968 Mustang, if I know him); more than 200 vendors; live music; prizes; and food.

And free testing, for men ages 40 and older. While the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race for a Cure events worldwide bring in millions for breast cancer research, the disease often called the silent male counterpart of breast cancer goes largely unfunded and unnoticed.

More men are diagnosed each year for prostate cancer than women are diagnosed with breast cancer, the American Cancer Society reports. Yet the National Prostate Cancer Foundation found that for every prostate cancer drug to reach pharmacy shelves, there are seven for breast cancer; likewise, federal spending on breast cancer research is nearly twice that of efforts to cure prostate cancer. The media also are 2.5 times more likely to report on breast cancer than prostate cancer, reports have found.

For Baker, who lost her husband last year to the disease, this is an outrage.

The Pilot spoke with Baker about her crusade — and 11 years of Cruisin'.

DP: What's new at this year's show?

DB: We have a gorgeous custom Cruisin' for a Cure golf cart to give away. Meguiar's will be filling the entire new Hangar building with more than 30 gorgeous cars, and detailing exhibitions all day.

DP: What do you think makes this show stand out from all the others?

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