Brandon's Awareness Run devoted to cancer education

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Rockridge High School is hosting the first annual Brandon's Awareness Run on Nov. 21, 2009 on the grounds of Rockridge High School in Edgington. The two-mile run-walk starts at 10 a.m., with late registration and packet pick up from 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.

The event is named after Brandon Ballard, who died last November at age 19 after a battle with testicular cancer. Ballard was a Rockridge graduate whose dream was to educate junior and senior high students on the symptoms of testicular cancer.

On Aug. 4, 2009, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation into law requiring high school health classes to cover testicular cancer awareness and physicals will require a testicular exam for all young males.

The legislation was initiated on behalf of Brandon Ballard. His cancer had developed while he was a student at Rockridge, even though he was active in sports and had annual sports physicals.

Senate Bill 1665, also known as Brandon's Law, was initiated by Brandon Ballard's parents, who worked diligently with Senator Mike Jacobs (D-36th District) to craft legislation promoting awareness of the illness to young men, hoping to avert a similar tragedy.

"Testicular cancer can affect a man at any age," Jacobs said. "Bringing attention to young men of the seriousness of the issue will impress upon them the importance of being screened throughout life."

The cancer education program will include information on risk factors, symptoms of the disease, and resources for assistance. In addition, the Illinois High School Association will include questions on family histories of cancer and may require testicular examinations as a part of sports physicals.

"I am thankful to Governor Quinn for signing this bill into law," Jacobs said. "I know the Ballards are grateful as well and I am confident this bill will prevent other families from suffering a similar tragedy."

Proceeds from the run will go towards a scholarship for a senior basketball player.