Fort Jackson hosted an annual aerobathon to raise breast cancer awareness Sept. 21 at the Solomon Center. The three-hour event had Soldiers, civilians and Family members sweating to high-octane music and aerobic routines offered by several Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation fitness trainers.

"This is our annual Do it in Pink event," said Pamela Long, DFMWR fitness director. "We've been at it for 10 years, maybe longer. Our goal and mission is to spread the gift of health."

Roughly 50 participants decked out in varying shades of pink attended the annual event. Tables of information about early detection of breast cancer, breast self-exam models, snacks and refreshments were available to those attending the event.

October, National Breast Cancer Awareness month, is dedicated to empowering men and women to perform monthly self-exams to track any changes within their breast tissue. Early detection is key to winning the war on breast cancer according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. While breast cancer is the most common form of cancer suffered by women, men can also suffer from this form of cancer, although the number is low at about one percent of men in the U.S.

"I am here supporting breast cancer awareness," said Staff Sgt. Allan Williams, Company C, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment. "I have a daughter, 14 years old. One of the reasons why I am here is to be a little more aware so I can pass on some tips to her so she can be more aware."

Williams is a drill sergeant and volunteered to help set up the aerobathon with two fellow male co-workers during their Basic Combat Training cycle break. While they were part of the few male participants during the event, they were solid in their support of breast cancer awareness and prevention for both personal reasons and a chance to make a difference in their military community.

"I think breast cancer awareness is very important, for society as a whole," Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Goodson, Company C, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment. "I did not know that men are susceptible to breast cancer, we are."

Goodson donned his pink t-shirt in the parking lot as he headed into the center. He said he and his co-workers would have fun with it even though they knew they would be the only men to attend the start of the aerobathon.

"It's an amazing rush to have this room filled with pink," Long said. She added she loved "bringing people together for their health."

Long, along with her team, coordinated the aerobathon. Her passion of sharing fitness with others inspired her to organize and host the event again. She said that physical fitness is one of the first steps to gaining overall health.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. backs up Long's statement with science. Their website states "exercise boosts the immune system and helps you to keep your weight in check. With as little as three hours of exercise per week, or about 30 minutes a day, a woman can begin to lower her risk of breast cancer. This doesn't require going to a gym either. Power walking is more than sufficient."

As the aerobathon came to an end, participants were treated to a raffle for prizes such as push-up bars, inflatable yoga balls and water bottles. Participants were also offered short massages free of charge from licensed reflexologist and masseuse, Desi Terry.

"Breast cancer awareness is extremely important to me especially as I age. When we are younger we don't really think it can impact us, but as we get older we realize it really can happen," Long said. "So I have to do everything I can to take care of my body, do my breast exams, get mammograms and learning about nutrition and the nutrients that help breast health and I share that with others."