By Mandy Stanage Shoptaw | Photography by Dero Sanford | Hair by Kennedy Whitlock with Red Beauty Lounge | Makeup by Susy Melendez with Red Beauty Lounge | Wardrobe from Dillard’s
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Arkansas men. And the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation is here to help the more than 2,600 men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. The Blue Ribbon Bash is a key fundraiser for the group, which provides support to these thousands of Arkansans.
This year, the bash is revving up – literally – with an auction item that’s sure to have car enthusiasts on the edge of their seats. Donated by the estate of the late David C. Gieringer, a 1966 Replica Shelby Cobra valued at more than $70,000 will be part of the auction. David’s widow, Beth Baine, felt compelled to make the donation to honor his brave fight against prostate cancer.
“Dave had always wanted to build his own car. Everything was purchased brand new. Believe me, if the parts they delivered weren’t just right, back they’d go until he was satisfied. Everything on this car was going to be perfect,” Beth shares. “Before he went to the hospital for the last time we talked about what to do with the Cobra.” Reflecting on David’s wishes for the car to be donated, Beth and her now husband, Bob Baine, felt the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation was the obvious recipient of David’s generous gift.
“David had been part of the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation from 2003 until his death in 2010,” notes Bill Johnson, Director of Development and Media Relations for the organization. “The 1966 Shelby Cobra replica was built by David using a Street Beasts kit during the time he was fighting prostate cancer.”
The Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation was established in 2000 by six Little Rock businessmen who were diagnosed with prostate cancer. They recognized a need to help other Arkansans and their families fighting the disease. The foundation is the only statewide nonprofit organization in the country that is funded and staffed to deal exclusively with prostate cancer. In addition to the foundation staff and board of directors, APCF also has a medical advisory board.
Bill says the mission of APCF is to promote awareness, encourage timely detection and support improved treatment of prostate cancer in Arkansas. “We talk a lot about awareness, for example, the older you are, the more likely you are to have prostate cancer. One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and if you are African American that goes up to one in five,” explains Bill. “Men need to know the risk and symptoms of prostate cancer, their family history of the disease and understand the importance of appropriate screening for early detection including the pros and cons of the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test.” There are free screenings held around the state and in 2018 more than 2,500 men received screenings in Arkansas. Early detection directly correlates with the survival rate.
David and his doctor made the unfortunate decision, after years of screenings, to delay checking his PSA for a time and upon resuming, it was too late. Beth and David settled in for the battle against this disease. “It is our goal that the funds raised from the auction will be used to educate Arkansas men and physicians on the importance of annual testing for prostate disease,” Beth says. “If one man is saved from the ravages of going through what Dave and our family went through, it will be a bargain.”
“When someone is diagnosed with this disease it can be frightening and life changing,” Bill relays. “We don’t want these patients to feel alone so we have the Patient Navigation Program which provides one-on-one guidance to men going through the process and we also have the Peer Network or support groups located around the state.” These groups meet regularly in Little Rock, Springdale, Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Conway for patients, caregivers and family members to share experiences with others who are fighting the disease.
This year the Blue Ribbon Bash will honor Dr. Gail Reede Jones. Dr. Jones is a practicing urologist in Central Arkansas.