The 2017 CRUSH Colorectal Cancer 5K and Fun Walk, held March 25 in Downtown Durham, attracted more than 1,000 participants and raised a record $102,273 and counting — breaking last year’s record of around $70,000.
Organized annually by the Duke Cancer Institute Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Cancer Program, participants came from near and far, joining 44 teams to show their support for friends and family and the many researchers and staff at Duke working toward a cure.
“It’s a great morning! I want to thank everyone for doing this on behalf of 380 faculty members and researchers and physicians and countless nurses and staff. This is an amazing turnout; it keeps growing every year,” said Steven Patierno, PhD, deputy director of Duke Cancer Institute. “Research at Duke and GI oncology is world-class and this supports that.”
Patierno and CRUSH emcee Ryan Switzer, a rectal cancer survivor who captains Team Semi Colon, both noted the plethora of creative team names this year, including Duke GI Butts and Guts, Saving Uranus, Angie's Bum-ble-Bees, Mark and the Rumpshakers, The AssAilants, Team Chemosabe, Team Tush Tush, and the Ass Kicking Katies.
Fee Fighters! — formed in honor of Stage 4 colon cancer survivor Mary Beth Fee — took the top fundraising spot at $32,862. They had hoped “to blow past” $5,000, said team captain Kevin Scanlon, and they did, attracting 150 team members and 100 plus outside donations.
“I had a little bit of a feeling we would surpass our goal but we didn’t know how far and wide this would go and how generous people would be; it was my first go at one of these things,” said Scanlon who got the idea to organize the team only a month ago after seeing a CRUSH 2017 flier. “When something happens to best friends of yours like this, you want to figure out a way you can help. The money we raised is a testament to Mary Beth’s enduring spirit and her kindness to everyone."
Scanlon and his wife and Mary Beth and her husband got the word out about Fee Fighters! through their families’ extensive community networks — work, kids’ schools, church, neighbors, the Y Guides — and social media, including Facebook and Mary Beth’s page on the “Lots of Helping Hands” website. Even total strangers, Fee said, pitched in.
“I’ve been really happy to have been a catalyst to get so many people unified so that we can help others with colon cancer and raise money for colon cancer research,” said Fee whose spirits have been buoyed by all the support she’s received.
The We Love Lucy team — honoring Lucy Hoffman Shockley who passed away in December — had the second highest total at $8,250 raised. A mother of three and wife of 29 years, Shockley was 55 when she lost her battle with colon cancer. She was a PTSA president, a Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts leader, soccer mom, and room mom who had worked as an attorney and law librarian before leaving the workforce to raise her children. A memorial service was held back in her hometown of Mariemont, Ohio.
Lucy, her husband Robert, two of their children and the family dog had participated in last year’s CRUSH event under the same team name, so the family decided to invite Lucy’s Cary friends and neighbors to this year’s CRUSH to honor her life. Robert Shockley said it “became the de facto memorial event for her Cary friends.” Afterwards they held an open house for their supporters who had, over the last three years, cooked meals, gave gift cards, sent cards, flowers, emails and texts and came to visit Lucy.
“Lucy was very happy with her care at Duke and as a family we wanted to raise money to do something to help the next Lucy,” said Shockley.
Abbe Lits, her daughters Shelby and Brooke Lits, and their three dogs came all the way from Georgia to participate in CRUSH.
Family friend and Duke cancer biology PhD student Andrea Walens organized their four-person team Mitch’s Bitches in memory of Abbe’s husband and the girls’ father Mitch Lits. Lits was a respiratory therapist and writer who passed away in October 2016 after a two-year battle with colon cancer.
“Coming here and seeing all this support has been so helpful,” said Abbe, whose husband wasn't treated at Duke. “We will try and get more people and raise more money next year.”
Colon cancer survivor Angela Bowling’s team of fourteen — Angie’s Bum-ble-Bees (in its third year at CRUSH) — raised $2,240. Bowling, who’s marketing manager for Duke Stores, was diagnosed in January 2014 with Stage 4 colorectal cancer. Under the care of DCI oncologist James L. Abbruzzese MD, she’s been cancer-free for two years.
“I’m out here in support of colon cancer awareness; it’s a cause that’s dear to my heart,” said Bowling, walking at CRUSH 2017 with her niece Layton and her best friend and co-worker Barbara Whitlow.
“Remember, no one fights alone,” said Whitlow.
“As a PA at Duke Cancer Center, every day I meet and care for many patients and family members whose lives have been turned upside down by colorectal cancer,” said Margot O’Neill, captain of the Saving Uranus team, which raised $2,200. “I am happy to have been part of the organizing team of the CRUSH event."
Co-organizer Duke GI oncologist Hope Uronis, MD, extended her "huge thanks" to everyone who came out to show support at this year’s CRUSH 5K race as well as the businesses on Ninth Street in Durham "that allowed us to take over their space on a beautiful Saturday morning.”
“The race is a great way to come together as a community to support our patients, their loved ones, and each other as we try to raise awareness about colon cancer and the research that is needed to continue to improve treatments for this disease,” she said.