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Kenny Gamble doesn’t gamble with his health

Legendary Philly musician and wife to host 21st annual free health fair and breakfast.
Kenny and Faatimah Gamble are hosting their 21st Annual Wellness Breakfast for Men on March 11. (Courtesy of Universal Companies)

For some reason, males tend to be a little more stubborn about going to visit a doctor when they need a checkup. 

Addressing that problem is part of legendary Philly musician Kenny Gamble and wife Faatimah Gamble’s mission of aiding underserved portions of the African-American community through Universal Companies, and on March 11, they will host their 21st Annual Wellness Breakfast for Men. 

“My wife used to always talk about how men never go to the hospital, including myself, and never get checkups,” Gamble said. “I encourage all the men to listen to their wives more when it comes to health, because it seems women have a longer health span.”

This annual event is clearly filling a need, as it has grown steadily in popularity over the years.

“When we first started out, we had 50 men in attendance. Since then, it has grown over the 21 years to where we anticipate about 350 to 400 men in attendance,” said Faatimah Gamble. “The information that was provided has changed lives.”

Among other services, attendees can get blood pressure tests and diabetes checks, along with a brunch. And the price tag doesn’t hurt, either: The event is 100 percent free.

“Just the cost of medicine and medical care is very, very high,” Gamble said. “This type of information would cost a fortune if you were going to see one of these people in their private practice. You get an opportunity to meet some professionals and possibly even become one of their patients.”

This year’s breakfast will give attendees an opportunity to hear from Dr. Jerry McCauley, director of nephrology (kidneys) at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Dr. Edward Liu, a dentist with a private practice, and Mika'il Abdul-Karim, owner of Diverse Body Sculpturing, who will talk on holistic healing.

The Gambles said incorporating alternative medicine alongside mainstream medicine is part of the strategy of exposing attendees to “different modalities of medical knowledge,” Faatimah Gamble said.

“We encourage complementary medicine, as opposed to just one form of medicine because they go hand in hand,” she said. “The best thing is to utilize food as your medicine, and make the right choices — that’s what we're trying to instill in our men who attend.”

From Gamble’s perspective, he’s benefitted personally from the lessons offered at the breakfast, whether it’s how dental health can affect the rest of the body or how to avoid the pitfalls of kidney disease, the 74-year-old said. 

“I'm getting old right now, that’s the test of time right there," he said. “I not only have one doctor, I might have five or six doctors, a doctor for each part of my body. … But it’s not about how long you live, it’s the quality of your life.”

The 21st Annual Wellness Breakfast for Men, held from from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on March 11 at Universal Audenried Charter School, 3301 Tasker St., is free, but preregistration is required. Visit ucmensbreakfast.eventbrite.com or call 215-732-6518 x 142 to register.