Friday, May 28, 2010

The 2010 Get Your Rear In Gear

One young man's death, caused by colon cancer, may have become the catalyst that saves other peoples' lives.

And if not that, it is the reason for an hours-long, blocks-long roving party every spring in Chicago.

The Colon Cancer Coalition held its second-annual Get Your Rear in Gear five-kilometer run and walk May 23 at Oak Park and River Forest High School, raising money for its cause and awareness of a disease that can be easily dealt with when found early, but is deadly otherwise. Twenty teams of families and friends and hundreds of runners, walkers and kids took part on a sunny and warm Sunday morning.

The instructions for the kids' race: "Follow the orange cones, go two blocks,
turn around and come back, and try not to hit the guy with the expensive camera
in the middle of the street."

For those who organized the event, the fight is personal. Patti, who helped bring the Coalition's signature event to Chicago last spring, lost her 23-year-old fiance, Dylan, to colon cancer.

"I was motivated to do something positive to help others become more aware of colon cancer," Patti said.

She motivated others around her as well. Among them was her best friend, Kelly, who helped her organize both races.

"I knew Dylan well and considered him my friend as well," Kelly said. "He was an awesome guy and an amazing athlete. And he died.

"Ever since then, I have wanted to do something to honor his memory and help other people not have to lose a loved one," Kelly said. "And I have wanted to support Patti."

Also in the crew is Candice, a nurse of 18 years who wanted to do something outside of her career to make her city healthier.

"I felt this was a perfect opportunity to reach the community," she said.

Getting warmed up and stretched out for the 5K

Judging from everything I saw as the participants in their event crossed the finish line, what they are doing is working.

It's not likely that any of the organizers will ever know if one of their racers got an early screening — and an early detection — because of what they learned that morning. But, at an event that grew out of a young man's death, I saw people at least having a good time in the face of tragedy, and probably making a difference for those they hope to save.

The racers were pretty competitive,
but the fun-run crowd

The finish-line welcoming committee

Practicing the Get Your Rear in Gear motto:
"Beat the guy in front of you any way you can."

This year's largest team was The Marti Parti, which declared that cancer stinks,
but that Marti smells nice