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Two years ago, gospel star Marvin Sapp seemed on top of the world. He'd just won eight gospel music Stellar Awards, including best artist and best CD.
Then his wife, MaLinda Sapp, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She battled the disease for 18 months until her death in September, at age 43.
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"Lots of organizations have health fairs," Tillmon said. "We wanted to do something different. Something that would give people an extra incentive to come out and be screened."
The solution: Pair health with entertainment, and put it in a church.
"African American churches have been a long-standing cornerstone in our community," Tillmon said. "There's no better place to go when we want to positively affect social change."
Adding entertainment to the mix, said Wideman, was "a no-brainer." Last year's AARP national wellness tour, which featured award-winning gospel singer and radio host Yolanda Adams, drew large crowds as large as 2,500 in four cities, including Atlanta.
"Entertainment and information work well together," said Sapp, who performed on another tour last year, organized by the American Heart Association, to raise awareness of heart health among African Americans. "I've seen how people are affected. They find out things about their health they didn't know. So I jumped at this opportunity."
The screenings at DeKalb United Pentecostal will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sapp and other gospel singers will perform from 5 to 7 p.m.
You must register for the health fair or the concert at 1-877-926-8300 toll-free; space is limited. Health fair participants are eligible for special concert seating.
"People are going to hear our message before they hear the song," Wideman said. "Too many people die because of foolishness, because they're afraid. If we can save one person's life — just one — the whole thing will have been worth it."
Drew Jubera is a freelance writer living in Atlanta.