Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 31, 2013
Talk about a long way to go on eight tiny wheels.
Keith Wegen will roll 555 miles through Texas on a pair of in-line skates to spread the word about early detection of prostate cancer. He’ll start his adventure Friday in Austin and wrap it up Nov. 9 in Dallas.
Wegen, 46, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in men, two years ago. His tour, dubbed "Skate For Prostate," is a fund-raiser for the Prostate Conditions Education Council, which raises awareness about all prostate conditions.
Most doctors recommend men have their first prostate screening when they are 50 years old. Wegen had symptoms including erectile dysfunction and a dull ache in his femur when he was 44, and insisted on having a screening.
"My message is if there’s any family history, start getting screened when you’re 40. It’s a very reasonably-priced blood test; it’s not an intense process whatsoever. You get it done when you get your cholesterol done," he said.
Wegen plans to skate 180 miles in and around Austin before heading north 60 miles to Waco on Monday. A few days later he’ll skate another 106 miles to Dallas, escorted by a cycling club. That’ll be his longest day ever - 20 miles longer than his next longest ride - on skates. Once in Dallas, he’ll skate an additional 209 miles around the Metroplex.
Wegen’s legs are used to the strain. He’s been skating for more than 20 years, and says he likes the sport because it’s low impact (as long as you don’t fall) and easy on the knees. Plus, he likes the speed. On a good downhill, he can move at up to 40 miles per hour. He hopes to average about 14.5 mph as he winds his way through Texas.
Last year he skated 395 miles across Colorado. (Talk about hilly!) That trip raised more than $17,000 for prostate cancer education and screening.
"I know what I’m in for," he says. "Definitely blisters are an issue. I’ll use Epsom salt every night to soak my feet. I wear two thin pairs of socks and custom orthotics, but it’s hard to mitigate (the foot problems) completely."
To donate, go to the Prostate Cancer Education Council’s website at www.prostateconditions.org. Follow Wegen’s journey on Facebook/SkateforProstate.