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Fitness Guru Billy Blanks Jr. to deliver keynote address at Whittier Street Health Center’s 2014 Men’s Health Summit

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Fitness Guru Billy Blanks Jr. to deliver keynote address at Whittier Street Health Center’s 2014 Men’s Health Summit
America’s First Family of Fitness: Billy Blanks Jr. and Sharon Catherine Blanks

Fitness expert and choreographer Billy Blanks Jr. will be the keynote speaker for Whittier Street Health Center’s annual, free Men’s Health Summit taking place on Saturday, June 28, 2014, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 1290 Tremont St. in Roxbury. This year’s theme is “Celebrating the Great Things our Boys and Men Bring to our Lives.”

Blanks Jr., described as the face for the new generation of fitness, went from being homeless to being a global fitness celebrity. He will share his challenging journey and his insight into how men can be motivated to care about their health for themselves and their families.

The Summit will also honor the following Men’s Health Champions with the Whittier Health Champion Award:

  • The Honorable Mayor Martin J. Walsh, City of Boston Mayor
  • Bill Brett, Bill Brett Photography and Boston Globe Photographer
  • Dr. Marc Garnick, Chief Medical Advisor, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Dr. Luc Joseph, General Pediatrics Specialist, Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Paul Mendis, Chief Medical Officer, Neighborhood Health Plan
  • Joseph Nolan, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations, Northeast Utilities
  • Richard Taylor, Executive in Residence Business Law, Suffolk University

The Men’s Health Champions will be part of a panel discussion addressing timely men’s health issues, following the speech by Billy Blanks, Jr. at noon. Other panelists include Joseph Trautwein, co-founder of Fresh Truck, and Joseph Bostic Jr., president and founder of Retention Frontiers, Inc.

The health summit is free and open to the public. In addition to the formal program with Blanks’ keynote, the health panel, and the awards ceremony for Men’s Health Champions, there will also be a health fair, free health screenings (including rapid HIV testing, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and prostate cancer), an Xbox tournament for youth and complimentary lunch.

The Summit will conclude with Blanks and his wife, Sharon Catherine, conducting a one-hour, moderate level fitness workshop.

“An integral part of our annual Men’s Health Summit is to provide men and boys with a general understanding of the importance of regular annual checkups and getting tested for diseases for which they may be at risk,” said Frederica Williams, president and CEO of Whittier Street Health Center. “The key to reducing and treating these diseases effectively and economically is to detect them in the early stages through routine screenings, which will be offered free during the Summit. Our hope is that together, the Blanks [family], our honorees, and panelists will help us continue to raise the awareness of how important it is for men to seek preventative health care.”

According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are far less likely than women to look after their health or to see physicians. They’re 25 percent less likely than women to have visited a health care provider in the past year (although they go when urged by women), and almost 40 percent more likely to have skipped recommended cholesterol screenings. As stereotypes would have it, nagging from women is the main reason men never get their health checked out.

Also, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control, men’s life expectancy has risen from 70 years to 76 years, while women’s has increased from 77 years to 81 years from 1980 on. The average life expectancy of black men is 71 years. Black men also have higher death rates from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The key to eliminating these health disparities is early testing so treatment can begin promptly.

With more than 300 people expected to attend the summit, the goal is to raise awareness among men that physical, mental and spiritual health are interconnected and, that by taking charge of their own health, they can build a stronger family and community.

Blanks Jr. is a fitness expert known for designing programs that make fitness fun and inclusive for families and people of all fitness levels. Blanks, along with his wife Sharon Catherine, have gone from being homeless to entrepreneurs through hard work, determination, and a dream. He and Sharon Catherine appeared on “Shark Tank” and landed a deal with Daymond John and Mark Cuban for their program, “Dance with Me,” the only actual fitness-based dance certification course. They are also in the process of launching their own original family lifestyle and fitness show, “America’s Fit Party” and in April 2013, they appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show.”

For more information about the Men’s Health Summit, please call 617-989-3071, email, or visit or @whittier_boston

About Whittier Street Health Center

Whittier Street Health Center is a Joint Commission-accredited, private, non-profit, independently licensed community health center dedicated to providing high quality, reliable and accessible primary healthcare and support services for diverse populations to promote wellness and eliminate health and social disparities. Serving more than 25,000 clients with over 100,000 clinic visits and 20,000 community outreach visits annually, Whittier has a patient base that is ethnically and racially diverse and includes significant numbers of individuals from Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, the South End, and Greater Boston. Whittier provides a comprehensive array of 40 healthcare programs and services designed to meet the primary health care, behavioral health, and social needs of the community. Whittier is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Level 3 (highest level) Patient-Centered Medical Home. Learn more at