By Toni Baruti, Board Member for The Center for African American Health

May 23, 2018 was the date that forever changed our lives. My stepfather, Robert Charles Ennis, III was scheduled for a routine colonoscopy. When I arrived to pick him up for his appointment, he didn’t seem like his normal vibrant self. He said he was ok but was tired and wanted to reschedule. I insisted that he go to the appointment. As they took him to the back for the procedure, I went to the building lobby to get a cup of coffee. Before I got to the front of the line my phone began to ring. “Mrs. Baruti, we need to come back to the office.” They told me my stepfather had an abnormal EKG and would be transported over to the emergency room. Tests were run and he was admitted. The prognosis was five clogged arteries, lung disease, and multiple myeloma. Six months to a year life expectancy. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How did we get here? Where were the signs? As it turns out, the signs were there, but he hid them and ignored them in order to continue being the family’s pillar, the best friend, father, father-in-law, and grandfather. He was indeed our center. From the first time I met my stepfather, 38 years ago at the age of seven, I’ve known him to be a strong, independent, and caring man; always selfless and making sure everyone else was alright. He didn’t want us to ever worry.

I knew the time was coming near when he would need to let go of some of his independence and let us take care of him. As I watched him decline, I often wondered if there was something that could have prevented this outcome; something that could have prolonged his life. A healthier diet? More exercise? I will never know, and it is too late. But it is not too late to educate those still with us. In honor of my beloved stepfather Robert C. Ennis, III, we have partnered with The Center of African American Health to present a Party for a Purpose. On July 6, 2019, we will celebrate the life of my stepfather and raise funds for the Center for African American to continue their mission of improving the health and well-being of infants, seniors, and everyone in between by providing culturally sensitive health education and health promotion programs. This fundraiser will specifically bring awareness to men’s health and preventative care.

Please join us July 6, 2019 at the Forney Museum of Transportation, 7 – 10pm.  Tickets are on sale now through Eventbrite.