COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The African American Male Wellness Agency had a VIP breakfast Thursday morning to say thank you to sponsors, corporate partners and donors.

This year is the 20th African American Male Wellness Walk. Although the Aug. 12 walk is months away, the agency’s preparations are already underway.

“The African American Male Wellness 5k Walk and Run is literally the biggest health event that happens every year in Columbus, Ohio,” agency president Kenny R. Hampton said. “We expect more than 30,000 people to come out this year. It’s an opportunity for us to provide free health screenings, so men can know their numbers and women.”

In addition to health screenings at no charge, walk participants can access general check-ups, and dental and medical services, according to the agency.

“We take away all the economic barriers, all the things, the stigmas that go with it as well,” said Dr. Keith Key, the honorary chairman for this year’s walk. “The psychology that exists sometimes in the Black community, especially with Black males, we think we have to be heroes. Now we want to say ‘No, no, no. It’s okay to be healthy.’”

While the wellness walk is their biggest event, Hampton says the African American Male Wellness Agency is much more. The goal is to change the stigma surrounding health and wellness in Black men and women.

“We’re closing gaps,” Hampton said. “The gap we’re trying to close is that life expectancy gap, and it’s very important for our men to understand it’s not okay to not know your numbers.”

Hampton and Key said the average Black man dies at age 67, which is 12 years younger than their white courterparts.

“The disparity of people dying 12 years sooner from preventable diseases is unconscionable, so if we can just share the message, share the love, let people know that it’s okay to come out and get free testing,” Key said.

The African American Male Wellness Walk, sponsored by NBC4, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Livingston Park.