Free Health Screening at Brenau Barbecue … and a Healthy Dose of Ronald McDonald

Aug 26, 2011
Rudi Kiefer

A barbecue competition and festival is not normally the place you would go for health tests, but that’s exactly what you can do on Saturday, May 29, at the Brenau Barbecue Championship.

The second annual fund-raising event for local scholarships to Brenau University will showcase some of the principal recipients of those scholarships – nursing students who will provide free health screenings to the public in the midst of barbecue eating, beer drinking and outdoor family activities on the Brenau campus.

The health screening booth, one of the highest-trafficked exhibits at last year’s inaugural Brenau barbecue competition, will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by student nurses and faculty from the nursing programs at Brenau’s School of Health and Science.

“We’ll do basic blood pressure testing and glucose monitoring,” said Keeta Wilborn, chair of the Department of Nursing. “We’ll also discuss safety in the sun and hydration and we’ll have free pamphlets about health education. If we find any abnormal results, we’ll provide information on what to do or where to go for follow-ups.”

The tests will only take a few minutes, because there will not be any reporting to public health agencies or physicians, but they still could save your life – if you follow up on any abnormal results with your personal physician. The American Diabetes Association reports that 57 million Americans are pre-disposed to diabetes. Without early detection, such as glucose screening, and subsequent treatment, they could face serious health issues such as kidney failure.

None of the screening results will be reported to anyone except the person taking the tests, Wilborn said.

“We want people to come and enjoy themselves,” said Jim Barco, Brenau’s senior vice president for institutional development, “but I think it’s important that they take a little time to take the health screenings.”

In addition to the screenings for adults, the festival will offer plenty of ways for children to keep active. Ronald McDonald will make a appearance, and there will be inflated playground structures and crafts and other activities provided by the local organization Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, Inc. INK is a not-for-profit initiative whose mission is to encourage children of all ages to develop their full potential through hands-on learning. INK is a neighbor of the Brenau East campus in Gainesville at Featherbone Communiversity.

You can get all this for the $5 admission, Barco said. Although there is a slim possibility that some samples of the contestants’ competition entries will be available if anything is left over following the judging, there will be plenty of great barbecue for sale at the festival provided by two vendors who, between them, have won the national Memphis in May barbecue cooking championship five times.

The $5 admission cost will help provide local scholarships for nursing, education and business students at Brenau University.

“We get students from as far away as Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, but we also need to make sure that local students can afford to come here,” Barco said. Brenau is a private institution with a strong tradition of providing aid to its students, many of who represent the “first generation” in their families to attend college.

Last year, Barco said, the barbecue event raised more than $20,000. The goal this year is $100,000.

“What this means is you’re going to get more nurses, more quality educators and excellent business leaders,” he said. “That’s worth a lot more than five dollars.”

For more information, go to

Originally published on 5/06/10