Alumni of the Year Award Goes to Blue Cure Founder
One out of two American men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime. What many people may not know is that more than half of all types of cancer can be prevented. Gabe Canales ’99 made it his life mission to educate a younger generation about cancer prevention and the realities of prostate cancer when he founded the Blue Cure Foundation. For this, Canales was chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Rev. Vincent J. Guinan CSB Alumni of the Year award.
His nominator, Kia Wissmiller ’99, said she nominated Canales because of his willingness to share his story and educate younger generations about cancer.
“Gabe has engaged the men's basketball team to help spread the word about prostate cancer and promote a healthier lifestyle,” Wissmiller said. “His openness has helped to remove the stigma from prostate cancer.”
Canales graduated from UST with a degree in liberal arts with a concentration in theology and communications. He entered the working field in PR and marketing until he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the young age of 35. From that moment on, Canales jumped into action to promote the anti-cancer lifestyle.
As founder, president and spokesman for Blue Cure – the men’s side of women’s “pink” movement for breast cancer – Canales has spoken at TEDx in Houston and conferences around the United States. Canales has appeared on media in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Dallas, Houston and other cities to raise awareness about prostate cancer and educate on prevention through diet and lifestyle habits.
“I’m on a mission,” he says. “I want to educate and empower young men and women to focus on the causes of cancer and how to adopt preventative measures.”
In addition to various national events and conferences, Canales has also made it a part of his mission to educate the faculty and students at the University of St. Thomas on the empowering Blue Cure message via prevention education and future scholarship programs.
Debra Moyer, assistant director of health promotion and wellness, has worked closely with Canales during the past three years promoting the Blue Cure movement on campus. They hosted many events such as the annual Celts for Blue Cure Basketball game, which raises both money and awareness about Blue Cure, and Meatless Mondays, which encourage the students on campus to embrace a healthy eating lifestyle.
She praises Canales’ dedication to the Blue Cure message and his ability to relate to the students on campus, particularly the men’s basketball team.
“The passion that he has for Blue Cure is evident,” Moyer said. “He is not just promoting it because it’s his job. It’s his experience. He really relates to our guys [on the basketball team.] It’s been a great resource for our office and the men on the campus. He’s a great ambassador for the University.” Canales has also worked closely with many student-athletes on campus, encouraging and helping them get more personally involved with Blue Cure and prostate cancer awareness. Anthony Medina ’12 became involved with Blue Cure, coaching youth basketball teams after Canales – via Blue Cure – launched seven Houston Amateur Athletic Union Blue Cure basketball teams targeting youth in elementary, junior and high school.
“It's admirable that he has involved the students in the fight to educate others about cancer,” Wissmiller said. “His work has taught the UST student population that prostate cancer isn't just an older man’s disease.”
Canales will be honored during the 2014 Commencement Ceremony at Reliant Arena on May 17, 2014.
“I'm deeply honored to receive the 2014 University of St. Thomas Guinan Alumni of the Year Award,” Canales said. “I've always been grateful for the liberal arts education I received at UST and the emphasis on critical thinking and effective communication which helped prepare me for my life's work. I will continue to serve proudly as an ambassador for the University of St. Thomas, and I hope to live up to this greatly appreciated honor."