For the past 19 years, Bill Brooks held the reins for a special fundraising initiative to help provide care for men with prostate cancer and now the event has a new group in charge.

The fundraiser, now headed by Women for Men’s Health, also has a new name. It’s now called the Gloves on Gala and it aims to raise money for a new health clinic, scheduled to open in late March, specifically designed for men and their health needs.

Dr. Shelley Spaner, a radiologist and Prostate Cancer Board member, says it’s important to have a specialized clinic because men die earlier than women and lead in 14 of the 15 causes of death in Alberta.

She says that by reaching out to men directly, they can gain a greater awareness about their own health and the care options available to them.

“The difference between men and women in health care is women do have points of entry all along. They’re the ones that have babies so when they’re pregnant they enter health care. They usually take care of kids so they are available to health care. They usually take care of their husbands, they usually take care of their parents and all along the way.”

Right now, the organization runs a mobile clinic called the Man Van to provide that critical point of entry to men.

“With the Man Van we make it easier for people to access. We go to events where there are men and what we’re hoping is that by showing men this is where you’re lacking, these are the things that are going to kill you early, let’s get them taken care of and we’ll help you,” Spaner says.

Pamela Heard, the executive director of the Prostate Cancer Centre says the new clinic and the Man Van will both help men learn about their health and what they can do to change things.

“If your blood pressure’s high, there are a few simple changes in your life that can take care of that. When you’re in your 50s and 60s, you will be glad of that.”

She says that the centre has already tested 2,000 men, but those exams cost money and that’s where the Gloves on Gala comes in.

“We’re unique in Canada. No one else is doing this work. We rely on donations from events like this to support the work in the community and the work we do at the Prostate Cancer Centre.”

Mark Wilson, the co-founder of the Bill Brooks Benefit Ball and president of Hotel Arts Group, says the event has been running for the past 19 years and has raised $8.8M.

Despite the name change, he thinks there is still a lot of momentum around to help raise funds.

“It’s really great that we’re going to continue this on. I really believe that this can go on for another 19 years. Hotel Arts Group wants to participate; it’s a great cause for us and we just think that if someone’s not going to do it, we want to step up.”

The event, scheduled for February 2, will feature food, drinks, a live auction and a silent auction.

Wilson says that the work that the Women for Men’s Health does is important too.

“I think we are all healthier because of it, particularly because we are aware now. I am a born and raised Calgarian and I think it’s important to give back to your community. Everyone around us is aware a little bit more about men’s health.”

(With files from Kevin Fleming)