Undy 5000 supports colon cancer awareness

People of all walks of life, some dressed as fairies and others as superheroes, but all in their underwear, gathered at Al Lopez Park for the first Undy 5000, a 5K run in support of colon cancer awareness.

The event was hosted by the Colon Cancer Alliance and about 10 percent of proceeds went to the USF Health BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic, a student-run clinic that provides uninsured residents near USFs Tampa campus with free healthcare.

Colon Cancer Alliance Tampa committee member Jocelyn Rodriguez said about 375 participants signed up to run at the event, a great show of participation for a first time run.

Rodriguez, whose mother is a colon cancer survivor, participated in the Undy 5000 of South Florida and wanted to bring it to the Tampa Bay area.

Dr. Jorge Marcet, division director of colon and rectal surgery and associate professor at the department of oncologic sciences at USF, stood by the finish line in a pirate costume with a gold colon atop his hat with his team Rear Admirals.

Acting as a liaison for Tampa and USF to the Colon Cancer Alliance, Marcet said his passion for prevention helped bring the event to the area. He also said he hopes to make it an annual event.

When I learned about the Undy 5000 I knew we needed to bring this to our community, Marcet said.

Marcet said his research at USF has shown that colon cancer is being diagnosed more frequently in people in their 30s and 40s, while the common belief is that colonoscopies should be done around the age of 40 or 50.

It is important for college students to know about the disease because they have parents that need reminding, Marcet said.

As the race finished, a large group of USF medical students, residents and professors lined up at an inflatable walk-through colon near the finish line for pictures.

Cara Sullivan, a fourth-year graduate student and one of the student directors at the USF Health BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic, said the partnership between the BRIDGE Clinic and Undy 5000 would enable the clinic to provide screenings for those who have symptoms of the disease.