Aaron Perry’s lifelong crusade to improve black men’s health and to crush racial disparities in so many different health-related categories is well-known here in Madison. Thanks to his appearance on the Megyn Kelly Show two years ago and being honored as one of Time Magazine’s 2018 “50 Most Influential People in Health Care,” he is also known nationally.
But now he’s about to take things global.
In an upcoming March 2020 issue of Men’s Health, the world’s largest men’s magazine brand, Perry will be featured as one of five global leaders who are changing the world of health.
“I had a great conversation with the people at Men’s Health,” Perry tells Madison365 about the recent interview he had with the magazine that has 35 print editions in 59 countries and boasts more than 21 million readers across its social and digital platforms. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they put together.
“What’s really great about this honor is that they selected me as one of five men globally – not just the United States – who are changing the world. This Men’s Health Magazine recognition really cemented the fact that we have a presence not just in the United States, but globally,” he adds. “The world is watching Madison and we are appreciative that we are part of bringing that attention to the state of Wisconsin for some of the work that we are doing.”
Perry is the founder of Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association who is responsible for launching the Men’s Health and Wellness Center inside of JP Hair Design, the largest black barbershop in Madison. The Center is a new innovative health model for reducing health disparities that works with 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. African-American males today are experiencing a health crisis. The center works with hundreds of men, for free, to actively combat that crisis.
“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Aaron, why are you insistent upon your services being free? There’s nothing in life for free.’ I’ve told them that these men – not all, but the majority of them – have been through enough,” Perry says. “And the bare minimum I can offer them is a free, preventative health service that can help their life get back on track.”
The model for the Men’s Health and Education Center is innovative and ambitious and people outside of Madison and Wisconsin have taken notice. Perry, a Madison community leader and the first African-American diabetic man to ever finish an Ironman, has been honored as one of Time Magazine’s top-50 Health Influencers. The list, which is curated by TIME’s health reporters and editors, recognizes people who changed the state of health care in America this year, and bear watching for what they do next.
Also, when the fourth annual list of healthcare industry heavyweights assembled by the editors of MM&M and PRWeek – the Health Influencer 50 – Perry was on the list alongside people like Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps, tennis superstar Serena Williams and Senators Bernie Sanders and Tammy Duckworth.
Perry says that he never asks national publications how they came across his information, but he assumes that his appearance on the Megyn Kelly Show two years ago was what helped to jumpstart the movement.
“During my appearance on the Megyn Kelly Show, we got a chance to talk off-stage after our interview after the show ended. One of the things that Megyn told me was that she truly appreciated what I am doing and that the statistics – black men vs. white men – were very appalling,” Perry remembers. “At that time, she offered to do whatever she could to support the efforts of my work.”
Perry is also the national director for Health Wellness and Disease Prevention for Black Men Run.
“That’s a national organization and we have 50 chapters in 30 states,” he says. “So I have visibility on a national level with that, too.”
In the Men’s Health and Education Center, the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association offers vital health services like blood-pressure screening, diabetes monitoring and flu shots. The plan is to expand to other barbershops in Wisconsin. Perry also hosts health programs like Black Men Run (below) and Brown Boys Read.
On Thursday, Perry and Jeff “J.P.” Patterson, owner of JP Hair Design, will be interviewed by WTMJ out of Milwaukee who are coming to Madison to do a story on the Men’s Health and Wellness Center.
“I think they recognize in Milwaukee how important the work is that we are doing and how important it is to be replicated across the state,” Perry says.
Perry says that 2020 will be even more of a break out year for the organization.
“We have a lot of great things coming for 2020. We put a small team together of really great men and we’re going to start working on applying for a major grant through the university school of medicine,” Perry says. “What we’re looking to do is to not only establish the work we are doing in Madison, but we are hopeful that a lot of this can be replicated across the state.
“We have a very strong energy behind us and we’re looking forward to taking this statewide,” he adds. “We really appreciate the love the people have been showing us. The Men’s Health recognition is incredible. At the end of the day, it’s so nice to be recognized as one of five men globally that’s changing the world. And we’re making that happen right here in Dane County.”