Marlins Foundation Steps Up to the Plate for Prostate Cancer Awareness
Dipen J. Parekh, M.D., grew up in his native India following the sport of cricket. But the renowned urologist recently had a chance to show off his baseball skills on a major league ball field. Parekh, professor and chair of urology and a urologic oncologist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Marlins Park June 19.
Parekh made the pitch after receiving a $20,000 check from the Marlins Foundation for prostate cancer research. This year, the team named the Department of Urology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as the beneficiary of their annual “Father’s Day Play Catch” event, which gave a sold-out group of 200 dads and their children a chance to play catch on the same field the big leaguers play on.
“I was thrilled and honored to throw the first pitch on a day that celebrates fathers and their critical role in our society,” said Parekh, who is also the Victor A. Politano Endowed Chair in Urology and Director of Robotic Surgery.
The event is held on Father’s Day league-wide to honor Major League Baseball’s commitment to prostate cancer research. Players, managers, coaches, trainers, umpires, and groundskeepers wear light blue wristbands and uniform decals, while clubs are encouraged to participate in charitable fundraising.
Though the league partners with the National Prostate Cancer Foundation, based in California, the Marlins wanted to ensure the funds raised at their park remained as local as possible, and would continue their longstanding relationship with UHealth.
“The University of Miami medical campus is less than one mile away from us and is in our backyard,” said Alan Alvarez, Director of the Marlins Foundation. “Being able to partner with an institution like UM, which is a Miami staple, and knowing that this money will fund advances impacting our own community is important to us.”
Parekh and a team of physicians, nurses, and staffers from the department also took part in radio and television interviews to share the latest advances in treating prostate cancer at Sylvester.
The day was especially poignant for Michael Hill, the Marlins President of Baseball Operations, whose father died of prostate cancer last year. Before the event, he visited Parekh to learn more about the state-of-the art therapies available at the cancer center.
“Mike truly enjoyed being able to shadow Dr. Parekh and assist the cause in honor of his late father,” said Alvarez. “He learned where UM stands on a national scale as it relates to the work they are doing. They have advances and equipment that no other hospitals have. Knowing that this money is being invested in a smart and impactful manner is something that we want to celebrate and continue to support.”
The Marlins Foundation and community outreach efforts support the charity partners of the Miami Marlins through philanthropy and service. The Foundation is committed to improving the lives of our youth through education, the arts, and baseball, with a focus on children with special needs. Since the ballpark was approved, the Marlins Foundation has given more than $6 million to South Florida charities.
The Marlins are considering ways to expand the event next year to bring in additional funds to fight prostate cancer, which is the most common non-skin cancer affecting men in the United States, and the second most common cause of cancer-related death nationwide.
“We are truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Marlins Foundation in our fight against prostate cancer,” Parekh said. “This type of support enables our physician-scientists to continue to develop and pioneer groundbreaking therapies to treat this disease which affects so many men across the country and abroad.”
For more information, call the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Department of Urology at 305-243-6591.