The first time Michael Sien of Eldersburg participated in a walk for breast cancer awareness five years ago, he noticed something that surprised him: very few men were among the walkers.
At the time, he didn't even know anyone who had breast cancer, but he walked to support a cause that affects thousands of women - and more rarely, men - each year.
"I started to think what could I do to make breast cancer and volunteering, in general, more on the radar for men," Sien said.
Last year, Sien walked and crewed the National Philanthropy Trust's Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk in San Diego that supports Susan G. Komen For the Cure nationwide.
As part of the food crew, Sien got up at 3 a.m. to help with breakfast, then walked to and helped at the lunch and dinner stops before heading to bed at 10 p.m.
This year, in addition to walking and crewing, he also is the team captain for a group of Marylanders who will fly out to San Diego on Nov. 9 to Nov. 11 for the nation's largest breast cancer awareness walk, with more than 5,000 participants.
As team captain of Crabs for a Cure, he helps walkers with fundraising and training for the three-day 60-mile walk, and provides tips on proper shoes and general information on the event. Walkers must raise $2,200 for the trust and pay for their transportation and lodging.
Sien is in the process of incorporating Crabs for a Cure as a nonprofit fundraising organization for breast cancer awareness and other groups, including the Stacy Davis Foundation and Carroll Hospice.
Kathy Kelly, a friend who is a breast cancer survivor, created the logo for Crabs for a Cure, which features a blue crab holding ribbons that say "Courage" and "Hope" in one claw while reaching for another ribbon that says "Cure."
"We already have courage and hope, and the cure is real close, we're almost there," said Kelly of Eldersburg.
Kelly, 42, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2006 and even though she is currently undergoing a trial drug treatment, she is planning to participate in the Race for the Cure for breast cancer awareness next month in Hunt Valley.
Sien has partnered with other metro-area groups to help with fundraising and organized several activities in Carroll County for the walk.
The next event is a monthly dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Baldwin's Station in Sykesville, featuring a six-course meal with five wines for $65, $20 of which goes to Crabs for a Cure.
They are also planning a golf tournament to support six Maryland breast cancer organizations, which will be held Oct. 4 at the Links at Challedon in Mount Airy.
So far, the team has raised $15,000, Sien said.
Robin Prothro, executive director of the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, said Sien "has generated this tremendous enthusiasm and shown incredible initiative to volunteer and promote the idea of men getting involved with this walk."
His efforts have earned Komen "quite substantial sums of money," Prothro said. "We feel very lucky to have him in Maryland."
A separate team that Sien is trying to get to join his group is the Sykesville Tae Kwon Do Maryland Girls, eight women participating in the walk.
All but three of the team have raised the minimum $2,200, said Kelly Patten, a team member doing the walk for the first time. The Tae Kwon Do team has supported Sien's events in the past, she said, but the main idea is that "it's all for the cause."
Sien's mission, however, is more than just raising money. Though he said about half the crew members at the 3-day walk are men, he wants more of them to walk, too.
"My mission is not really specific to breast cancer, but to reach out to the male community to make them realize volunteering is not just a woman thing," he said.
"There is a deep feeling of reward they can get from it," Sien said. "I think the world needs more active participation, and it's time for men to say 'it's time for me to give back some of my time and gifts to someone who is in desperate need of help.' "