Celts For Cancer

In the final installment of a six-part series to raise funding and awareness for cancer research, prevention, treatment and services, Celtic Life International gets Kilted to Kick Cancer…

So what’s under the kilt?

It is a question that Justin Schorr and Jason Hoschouer hear all the time. Their reply, however, is not what you might expect – “a risk for prostate cancer.”

Schorr and Hoschouer – a firefighter and policeman, respectively – live and work in the San Francisco Bay area. That is also where their grassroots initiative, Kilted to Kick Cancer (KTKC), was born.

“Kilted to Kick Cancer was conceived in a campsite at the Caledonian Club of San Francisco Highland Games,” says Schorr. “We were swaying in the breeze in our new kilts and wondered how we could talk the wives into letting us wear them more often. The following month, October, we rallied as first responders to raise awareness about breast cancer. I received a small sky-blue ribbon pin from a follower out of state with the message “Did you know more men will be killed by prostate cancer than women killed by breast cancer?” Having never been told my risk factors for prostate cancer, I had no idea that, at that time, 1 in 6 men were being diagnosed. I reached out to Jason and we got to work.”

True to its humble roots, KTKC remains a small charity, run by a handful of volunteers.

“Our focus is getting money directly into the hands of professionals who actively research screening advancements or participate in groundbreaking research into curing prostate cancer. Jason and I are both on the board of the IRS 501c3, handle event planning, outreach, and run the online fundraising competition.

“Our members plan local events with their kilted friends, and we help them advertise it and support their efforts with local vendors to ensure that all monies collected in the name of the charity are actually collected.”

Interestingly, no one told the pair how costly it would be to establish a charitable organization.

“Just getting started with the IRS cost us $700 out of pocket. Then there is the website, the shirts, the events…it adds up. It is true that it costs money to make money – and breaking out of the small organizational plan we have now has proven tough; we are all volunteers, still work full time, and have growing families.”

Still, notes Schorr, the rewards are well worth the investments.

“I love it when men and their wives stop us on a street corner to ask about the kilts – it opens the door to discussing a touchy subject. Our “Kilted Army” wears kilts everywhere we go for the entire month of September. Each person who gives us a double-take gets a brief explanation of the risks of prostate cancer and how to get involved with KTKC.”

Many men don’t know the risks, don’t understand their PSA test results, or simply refuse to talk about their “man parts.”

“We approach them with no shame, no hesitation, and start a conversation no man wants to have. When we are done, they have the basics of their risk factors and how to learn more.”

The organization gets its message out a number of ways; word of mouth, social media, advertising, and via local, regional and national media coverage.

“The biggest messaging,” says Schorr, “comes from simply going about our day-to-day business in a kilt.”

Each year, the “Kilted Army” recruits a hundred or so men and women across 32 states. They even have a sister organization in the U.K., though KTKC is not considered an international charity. That said, the door is open to all.

“Those who wish to get involved can start at our website and learn more about us and our efforts. There, they can find links to get kilts, shirts, and other garments, as well as free downloadable cards and information to share with others. Then all they have to do is kilt-up and go about their day. Inevitably, curiosity will get the better of people and they will stop to ask ‘so, what’s under the kilt’…”