With planning in full swing for the third annual run/walk to raise money for colon cancer screening and support to patients, Janna has taken some time to reflect on the three years since she lost her good friend Tami Stewart to this disease and look forward to the 2013 race on November 16.
Here’s Janna’s story in her own words.
How has starting Get Your Rear in Gear – Orange County changed your life?
“The first year of grieving the loss of my best friend, Tami, was difficult on so many levels. We shared so many of life’s ups and downs together. I had the honor of caring for her as she got sicker and sicker. So many wonderful moments I will cherish forever, but then there was a void in my heart after she passed away. One that I thought would always hurt.
“Something happened on the anniversary of her passing, November 16, 2011, the day of our first OC race. My grieving turned into celebrating. I found something that would honor her battle and her life as well as raise awareness for the very disease that took her away. It is hard to explain, but it was a magical day and from then on I could be happy, joyful, be at peace, and see an incredible future.”
Now that you are coming up on your third race in honor of Tami what are your expectations and how do you think she would feel about what has been accomplished?
“After our first year, we were thrilled to have no rain and a little over 300 people come out. We were shocked when year two came around and over 600 people came out to participate. Our first year we raised about $12,000 for Access OC and our 2nd year we raised about $20,000 for them. We are expecting to double in size once again this year, especially with addition of UCI’s Digestive Disease Center Mega Colon present, and UCLA’s Colorectal Cancer Treatment Program being represented. A faithful organization that has been with us since the first year, Greater Long Beach Gastroenterology, will also return this year as a sponsor.
“Tami would have loved this! Even in the midst of her dying, she was always reaching out to others to encourage, help, and give advice. Knowing that it was her life and journey that sparked this event that would reach thousands of people in her community and raise awareness for colon cancer would bring the biggest smile to her face.”
What is your favorite part of the race each year?
“My favorite part of the race is seeing the bond that exists between strangers brought together by one common denominator – colorectal cancer. The stories people share about why they get their rear’s in gear are truly touching, inspiring, and often tear-jerking when a loved one is lost.”
Editor’s Note: If you would be interested in starting a fundraising run/walk or other event in your area please contact us.