Take me out to the ballgame! Baseball season is well underway, and fans are heading to stadiums around the country for IRL Major League Baseball. We are also less than a week away from Father’s Day, so combine the two, and you have the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s Home Run Challenge.
In its 25th season, MLB and PCF’s Home Run Challenge has raised over $50 million for research and early detection of prostate cancer. Each year, supporters can donate for every home run hit between June 1 and Father’s Day with 82 cents of every dollar donated going towards finding a cure.
“…[I]t was a breakfast I had [in 1996] with three owners, Peter Magowan of the San Francisco Giants, Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox and Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets,” said PCF Founder and Chairman, Michael Milken. “We were talking about a number of issues and one of them was, men don’t get checked. Unfortunately, in many cases, men feel they’re doing great and if they go to the doctor all they can do is find out they’re not doing great. So getting a man to go to the doctor is hard…Next, the all American pastime, you’re outside and the idea that you go out there and tell your dad, your grandfather, your uncle, your brother, your co-worker, go get that simple checkup, blood test to see if you have prostate cancer or not. So, it was that breakfast between the four of us that eventually led to the Home Run Challenge and the idea of the home run is what is the most exciting play in baseball.”
Milken is a prostate cancer survivor, so he knows first-hand how important early detection and treatment is to “keeping dad in the game.” Milken and the team at PCF have attended over 500 baseball games in the 25 years of the Home Run Challenge, and on Father’s Day, Milken attends with his three children, their spouses and his 10 grandchildren.
“It means everything,” Milken said. “When you were diagnosed with cancer, more than 20 years ago, most people thought it was a death sentence. Amazing advancements that we’ve had a chance to be part of. And when they told me I had approximately 18 months to live in 1993. You know, I’m no different than anyone else, will I ever get to see my kids get married? Will I ever get to see grandchildren? And in 2019 on Father’s Day, just having all 10 of our grandchildren that Lori and I have been blessed with, with me at Dodger Stadium, our two daughter-in-laws, son-in-law, our sons and daughter, the entire family there, and to see one of our grandchildren throw out the first pitch and the catcher being another one, its something you could wish for. But back in ’93, you didn’t think it’d be a reality. So in that sense, I am no different, but the advancements in research have provided grandparents, parents a chance for far more time with their children, grandchildren, and in some cases, great grandchildren.”
Milken reminisced about an Eric Karros home run, his short-lived career as a cameraman for FOX during a live national broadcast and the many trips to ballparks with the late, great Tommy Lasorda. But through it all, the most important thing has, of course, been the lives changed and saved by research.
“…The thing that’s most emotional is, there’ll be 3.7 million men in America that have had prostate cancer spending Father’s Day with their families,” Milken said. “Not worrying about their longevity that day, because of all the advancements, all the drugs, all the money that was raised and the improvements and early detection and treatment…With 3.7 million men healthy sharing Father’s Day with their families, friends, neighbors on June 20th, 2021, there is no better accomplishment. And I am very happy to be one of those 3.7 million men.”
If you would like to learn more about the PCF Home Run Challenge or to donate, click here.
*Photos provided by PCF. Photographer: Paul Bliese