Mako Nesler never got to know his maternal grandmother and that absence left an impression.

Barbara Nell Eddings passed away from breast cancer when her daughter, Sherry Wilkerson - Nesler's mother - was a teenager. In an effort to fight against the disease, Nesler, owner of Mako Industries, has helped to raise awareness with pink roll-off boxes he has used over the past six years in his waste hauling business.

"We've had some other situations through the course of time here that we know," he said. "A girl I graduated high school with, she's actually having a full mastectomy. She just got finished taking her radiation and chemo."

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Nesler is taking another step in the cancer fight by raising funds for the American Cancer Society through its Real Men Wear Pink initiative. He joins 18 other businesssmen and community leaders from the region who are striving to surpass their collective goal of $50,000.

Last year's inaugural effort raised $49,590.

"We're trying to exceed that goal," Nesler said.

Contacted last week, Nesler said he was halfway to his personal $2,500 goal. He is taking donations and also selling specialized pink t-shirts for $20 each.

Donations and t-shirts can be ordered at Mako Industries, 382 Hayden Rd., or by calling 270-804-7777.

"It's a good opportunity," he said of making a difference in the fight against breast cancer. "It affects somebody at all levels."

Also locally, David Dietz, administrator at Mills Health and Rehab, is participating in the effort. Other participants include Paducah City Manager Jim Arndt, Jeff Bell of J Bella's Pizzeria, McCracken Sheriff Matt Carter, Antione Coleman of Dillard's, Andrew Fiers of McCracken County Special Olympics, Fred Hargrove of Goodwill, Nate Heider of Dippin' Dots, Jason Hibbs of Hibbs Insurance, Brent Housman of Hilliard Lyons, Jason Jones of CFSB, Kevin Kauffeld of Independence Bank, Josh Linville of Manly Daniel's Barber Shop, Zach McMillan of McMurray and Livingston, John Montville of Mercy Health, Jason Strait of Western Rivers Boat Management, Ryan Summers of Pizza Inn and Nick Turner of Shoe Carnival.

Currently, the Paducah area group has raised $10,555. The campaign runs until Oct. 31.

Funds raised support the American Cancer Society's work with breast cancer research, patient services such as Road to Recovery and Hope Lodge, and education centered around breast cancer screenings and risk reduction.

According to the American Cancer Society, with the exception of skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. Currently, there is a 1 in 8 chance a woman in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

Approximately 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year alone. However, death rates from female breast cancer dropped 40% from 1989 to 2016. These decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments.

For additional information on Real Men Wear Pink or ACS information or services, contact Janel Tate, Society community development manager, at 270-883-0481 or 1-800-227-2345.

Eric Walker is the sports editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.