African-American Male Wellness Walk is Aug. 20

It’s time again for black men to set aside a day to get free health exams and some exercise.

The fourth annual African-American Male Wellness Walk of Youngstown-Warren will take place Aug. 20 beginning at 7 a.m. in the Covelli Centre parking lot, 229 E. Front St.

Participants have the opportunity to walk, run or bike a 5-kilometer route. There will be health screenings and family-friendly activities in a children’s area near the center. The 5K is free and does not require registration.

The Rev. Dr. Lewis Macklin II, walk chairman and pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, said the walk/health event kicks off African-American Heritage Weekend.

Immediately after the walk, for $5 you can get a pass for a festival, until 9 p.m., in the downtown’s Central Square area with live DJs, line-dancing, contests and the spoken word. Vendors will have food available for purchase.

The event is sponsored by 2Deep Entertainment, CIRV of Youngstown, the city, Cortland Banks, Sterling-McCullough Williams Funeral Home and MetroPCS Wireless.

Mr. Macklin points out everyone is welcome to participate in the walk regardless of gender, age, race/ethnicity and faith beliefs.

Health screenings are provided by staff from Mercy Health, Care Source and the National Center for Urban Solutions. Also, Meridian Services will have representatives available to address chemical dependency and addiction; Veterans Affairs reps will provide emotional and mental-health screenings; and domestic-violence prevention experts will be on hand.

The national African-American Male Wellness Walk Initiative raises awareness of preventable health conditions that disproportionately affect black men.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black men have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and prostate cancer than white males.

This year’s theme is “Healthy Men Make Healthy Families.” There will be a variety of educational resources available to empower men and their families to take responsibility for their health, Mr. Macklin said, adding that thousands of people are expected to participate.

The African-American Wellness Walk is the largest health initiative for black Americans in Ohio, Mr. Macklin said. Besides the Youngstown-Warren area, the walk also takes place in Columbus, Toledo, Cincinnati and Cleveland. It also has expanded to Niagara Falls, N.Y., Washington, D.C., Silver Spring, Md., and New Orleans.

“Men are encouraged to take charge of their health by bringing their families together in unity for the cause of good health, well-being, awareness and prevention,” Mr. Macklin added.

I had the privilege of being an honorary chairman for the first walk, and honorary chairmen for this year’s event are former professional athletes and entrepreneurs W. James Cobbin of Youngstown and Deryck Toles of Warren.

Cobbin graduated from North High School in 1953 and received a scholarship to Allen University in Columbia, S.C., for baseball. After two years at Allen University, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization minor league system, where he was sent to Brunswick, Ga., for spring training.

While in spring training, he received an offer from Ed Hammond, the general manager of the New York Black Yankees, to play in the Negro League. He played for the New York Black Yankees and the Indianapolis Clowns during 1956 to 1958.

He is one of the approximately 75 Negro League legends still living.

Cobbin is president/CEO of Inner City Transit LLC, a local company licensed to transport travelers throughout the country and Canada. He is also owner of the W.J. Cobbin Office Tower located at 1350 Fifth Ave. on the city’s North Side, where several businesses are housed. Cobbin and his wife, Anne, have two children, Keith and Erica, and five grandchildren.

Toles is founder and executive director of Inspiring Minds, a Warren-based community organization that engages, inspires and empowers under-represented youths by exposing them to life-changing experiences and positive role models. It began in 2006.

In 2015, the organization made its first geographic expansion to offer programming to students in Youngstown.

Toles was an accomplished student-athlete at Warren G. Harding High School. After graduating in 1999, he went on to Penn State University as an academic All-American and football standout.

In 2003, Toles graduated with a degree in business administration and began his NFL career as an outside linebacker with the Atlanta Falcons. He finished his career with the Indianapolis Colts.

Inspiring Minds provides at-risk youths access to opportunities and experiences. Last month, the program took a group of youngsters to D.C. to see Howard University, a leading historically black college, and other sights in the nation’s capital.

For nearly a decade, Toles and Inspiring Minds have been able to expose local students to more than 60 colleges and 50 industries across the county and provide more than $60,000 in scholarships for post-secondary education.

For information on the walk, or to become a sponsor or volunteer, contact Mr. Macklin at 330-788-1696 or by email at

To see what else is offered at the festival, go to, or call 2Deep at 330-953-3340.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at