At the beginning of every year, Aaron Perry and the organization that he founded, Rebalanced-life Wellness Association, hosts “We’re Off to a Good Start,” a physical activity and nutrition kickoff program with the goal of empowering Black men to get healthy and to keep their New Year’s resolutions by developing attainable goals they can stick with all year long.
“This is our annual New Years’ kick-off event and the goal of the event is to encourage and empower men – particularly Black men – to be successful with their New Years’ resolutions,” Perry tells Madison365. “We have seen that towards the end of the year – and particularly this past year during the pandemic – that many of us are looking to do something different health-wise. So this is one of those events where we want to support men to keep their New Years’ resolutions in place.
“Even if a slip occurs, we want to be there for you to help you get back on that horse and help you be successful. That’s the goal of the event,” he adds.
To help do that, Perry has enlisted some very special guests that will speak at this year’s “We’re Off to a Good Start” event that will take place virtually on Saturday, Jan. 23, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The event will feature DL Hughley, an actor, political commentator, radio host, author and stand-up comedian. Hughley is well-known as one of the “Big Four” comedians in The Original Kings of Comedy. The event will also feature actors/comedians Joe Torry and Dannon Green.
How did Perry get such star power for the event?
“My college roommate, Dannon Green, is an actor, comedian, movie star, screenwriter, first African American man to get a master’s degree in computer animation. He had moved to California and ended up stumbling on comedy and he never looked back. Dannon and I have always stayed in contact and I always reach out to him and bring him in as a guest,” Perry says. “The man is just very funny.
“This year, we expanded on that with DL Hughley and Joe Torry and it’s just something the community can expect moving forward,” he adds. “We just believe that we want to bring the best to Madison and we want to have our events to always have a powerful message but we also know having these celebrities on board will make it even more successful.”
The event will be hosted by Rebalanced-life Wellness Association, which Perry founded in 2007 and has been working with local businesses, corporations, community-based organizations, health educators and the faith community to create an awareness of the major health concerns affecting African-Americans and to actively promote a healthier lifestyle. “We’re Off to a Good Start” will feature a panel discussion where the panelists will talk about how they can inspire and encourage one another to be successful and what challenges they have faced over the past year.
The event will also feature Dr. Kevin Whitlow, the former Detroit Lions lead physician.
“Dr. Whitlow will be doing a discussion and presentation with one of his patients, Brian Castleberry, one of our Black Men Run captains from the Detroit area. Brian and Dr. Whitlow will talk about patient-doctor relationships and why it’s so important,” Perry says. “That’s one of the areas that we are really pushing with this event: We want men to have a better relationship with their medical team and that includes their primary care physician, their educators and their nutritionists. All of those things combined will continue to be a bridge building back to the medical community where that trust has been significantly damaged over the years.”
Lindsay Michelle Rogers will lead three stretching and flexibility breakout sessions. In the final half hour, Green will treat the group to a one-man comedy show.
“This event is part of our recruitment for the entire year. This is the day we get men to commit to that healthy lifestyle and we provide activities throughout the year,” Perry says.
Those activities include Black Men Run, Black Men Hike, Black Men Cycle Madison, and Black Men Yoga.
“We will also be unveiling our podcast which we will be launching in April and that’s Black Men Speak,” Perry says. “That [podcast] will be myself, Dr. Alvin Thomas and Dr. Logan Edwards. We’re really excited about that.”
Perry once overcame his own personal challenges to become the first African-American diabetic man to ever finish an Ironman Triathlon. He hopes that men can use this educational and supportive event to empower themselves to do the same in their lives. Perry notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Black men especially hard.
“After COVID and living through the pandemic, we know that Black people are more than four times likely to die from COVID-19 than white. This is a statistic that has to get people’s attention. We know that there are many things we can do to mitigate infection,” Perry says. “So we will definitely take some time throughout the presentation to talk and encourage men and their families to get vaccinated. We will be focused a great deal on that.”
All men are welcome at the 5th annual “We’re Off to a Good Start” event.
“We are really happy to have these great special guests onboard,” Perry says.“We’re shooting for about 200 people at the event. We are hoping that people will come out and support it. So far, we have nine states represented so we think we’re on a great trajectory to meet those numbers.”
For more information or to sign up for “We’re Off to a Good Start,” click here.