ATLANTIC CITY — Standing amid stacks and stacks of boxes of condoms, Scott Petinga made his pitch Tuesday to about 50 advertising and public relations professionals gathered in a restaurant meeting room.
His message: Men, especially young men, need to take care of their sexual health.
The entrepreneur and philanthropist wasn't trying to sell the boxes of his company's prophylactics brand, Rouse. He gave away 50,000 of the condoms to the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.
Georgett Watson, chief operations officer of the alliance, called Petinga's donation "very generous." That number of condoms, she said, was about a three-month supply for her organization, which distributes them, along with information about AIDS prevention, to communities and college campuses in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties.
"Instead of buying condoms to distribute, it's money that we can put into other areas," Watson said.
Petinga, 45, is a survivor of testicular cancer, and each box of Rouse condoms and package of his company's Pariah men's underwear comes with a message about early detection and treatment of that cancer. Part of the sales proceeds will go to health initiatives for men.
The American Cancer Society projects that in the United States, 8,850 cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in 2017. The incidence of this cancer has been increasing worldwide for decades, it says, though experts have not been able to pinpoint reasons for the increase. Testicular cancer is not the most lethal, with about 410 deaths annually in the United States and a 90 percent cure rate, according to the cancer society. But as with breast cancer, early detection may be a key to survival.
Petinga said men should make monthly self-examinations of their testicles — as women are urged to make monthly self-examinations of their breasts.
Men typically don't teach their young sons to do the self-exams, he said. He hopes that the message that is provided with his lines of condoms and underwear will make a difference in motivating men to discuss the issue and do the exams.
In a self-published memoir, No One Ever Drowned in Sweat, Petinga juxtaposes his career as a public relations executive, real estate mogul, and founder of several charities with his battle with testicular cancer: He sent all the members of the Public Relations Council of Greater Atlantic City home with a copy of the book after his hour-long presentation at Angelo's Fairmount Tavern.
Part of the proceeds from the book's sales will go to charity, this time to Petinga's Fairy Foundation, a nonprofit that tries to grant the final wishes of adults with life-threatening medical conditions.
"I guess what it comes down to is that I've come home … and I want to do some good here," said Petinga, a native of Atlantic City who most recently was based in Minneapolis. He had begun his career at a local firm owned by the now-president of the local PR council, William Cradle, who invited him to speak on Tuesday. "Everything in life goes full circle, and now I am back here."
That circle has led Petinga through a series of what he has called life failures — from bad grades in school, not going to college, getting kicked out of the Marines, a divorce, and being diagnosed with cancer — to successes in which he has accomplished impressive and "respectable goals," including working at a major PR firm and then creating his own Minneapolis-based marketing firm.
Among his ventures now: a humanitarian organization called Thinkdifferent, which provides grants and other support designed to spark innovation and problem-solving ideas in housing and health care.