Each person featured here is a volunteer touched by colorectal cancer. Get Your Rear in Gear® and Tour de Tush®events would not exist without them.
Please join us in saying “Thank You” for their tireless efforts.
Want to join this impressive group of individuals? Contact us about bringing Get Your Rear in Gear or Tour de Tush to your community.
Gale Fritsche | allentown, pa | Frankie Melendez, Jr. | arkansas | Ryan Murray | austin, tx |
Gale is the event director for the Tour de Tush bicycle ride held in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He became involved in planning the event while going through treatments for stage III colon cancer discovered during a routine screening. His hope is that events like the Tour de Tush will make an impact on many communities in the fight against colon cancer.
Frankie is a stage IV survivor, diagnosed at 45 yrs old. The Get Your Rear in Gear 5K in Arkansas is very important to because he wants people in the state not ignore sign or symptoms like he did. Its important to listen to your body and do not ignore when it is telling you when something is wrong. Frankie wants everyone to know about this disease and importance of getting check and screened at a young age. He is not a sit on the bench kinda person, he wants to be in the game and make a difference. That’s what he is trying to do here Arkansas.
Ryan lives in Austin with his wife, Jessica and lots of animals… and honeybees. He has volunteered with Get Your Rear in Gear in Austin since 2007 in honor of his loved ones lost to all types of cancer.
Gale Fritsche | allentown, pa |
Frankie Melendez, Jr. | arkansas |
Ryan Murray | austin, tx |
Barkley Booker | baton rouge, la |
Barkley is a stage III rectal cancer survivor, diagnosed at age 37. She got involved with the Colon Cancer Coalition because she wants to encourage anyone who thinks they may have symptoms of the disease to get checked by their doctor. She is committed to getting the word out – that this is a preventable cancer – to as many people as possible.
Neelima Reddy | baton rouge, la
Neelima is a gastroenterologist who enjoys spreading awareness in the community and doing this fun event, Get Your Rear in Gear in Baton Rouge.
Brian Shelly | boston, ma |
Brian got involved with the Colon Cancer Coalition after his brother-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer in his 30s. He hopes the work he does for the Boston 5K will encourage all people, not just those above the screening age of 50, to know the signs and symptoms of the disease and to talk with their families about health history and the importance of screening.
Joe Mahaffey | charlotte, nc |
Joe is the brother of Doc Mahaffey – the Blue Ribbon Warrior. Joe joined the fight in Doc’s final year as a committee member of Get Your Rear in Gear – Charlotte. In 2018, Joe led an amazing team of people who continue to build on the foundation that Doc, Sue (Falco), and others have brought to the legacy of the Charlotte race. Joe current passion is the Blue Ribbon Warriors Foundation that focuses on colon cancer awareness, advocacy, and fights for better policies that drives research and lowers both the cost and the age of getting screened.
Philip Sanford | charlotte, nc |
Philip has been running in Get Your Rear in Gear races across the country since 2010 and been on the committee in Charlotte since 2016. Philip’s mother, Mary Kay Sanford, passed away from colon cancer in 2006 at the age of 48 after being diagnosed with stage IV six years earlier. The goals Philip would like to achieve in his leadership role are to increase awareness and screening for early onset colon cancer, have the Colon Cancer Coalition be the driving force behind changes in Charlotte and the state of North Carolina, and to have the stigma removed from open discussions about colon cancer and its symptoms, especially among young people.
Mary-Karen Bierman | charlotte, nc
Mary–Karen is a stage I colorectal cancer survivor who teamed up Sue Falco to bring Get Your Rear in Gear to Charlotte. Together they grew this event from 1,200 participants in the first year to over 2.300 in 2016! Sue, who lost her battle with this disease in January 2016 at 46 years of age, would have been proud. Mary–Karen continues to get her rear in gear in Sue’s honor because she knows the huge impact that the awareness brought by the 5K and the programs funded through it has on survivors, their families, and the Charlotte community.
Sue Falco | charlotte, nc
Together with Mary-Karen Bierman, Sue brought Get Your Rear in Gear to Charlotte in 2010. She the led the event committee from the first race until her death in 2016. The event in Charlotte is dedicated to her memory and the team is determined to change the way we see colorectal cancer, one beautiful warrior at a time.
Doc Mahaffey | charlotte, nc
Doc battled colorectal cancer 3-times before it finally claimed his life. Diagnosed in 2010 with stage I rectal cancer at the age of 50, Doc became involved after a stage III diagnosis in 2012. In August 2014, he was diagnosed a 3rd time with a re-occurrence of stage IV, making him more determined to increase awareness, screening rates, and the support available to those in treatment. When Sue Falco lost her 8-year battle just months before the 2016 event in Charlotte, Doc stepped in as co-director, a roll he held before his passing later the same year. Doc was the self-proclaimed Blue Ribbon Warrior, living by his motto “In the battle against cancer, it takes a warrior to survive.”
Daphne Dulude | colchester, vt |
This annual race began in 2008 in honor of her sister, Denyse Conant. As a runner, Daphne thought this was a wonderful way to support her and colon cancer awareness.
Tammy Phillips | columbus, oh |
Tammy is a mother, wife, and full time police officer, but first she is a daughter. Her journey with colon cancer began in 2011 after her mother was diagnosed with the disease. She is a worker bee by nature and was excited to do more in the fight with colon cancer prevention and education. She searched for a race to run honoring her mothers fight and ended up creating one in Columbus, Ohio in 2015 through the Colon Cancer Coalition. In addition to directing the upcoming race, she devotes a great deal of time serving the homeless community and volunteering at the local shelter.
David & Winonah McCluskey | des moines, ia |
David McCluskey is a colorectal cancer survivor. He and his wife Winonah started the Colon Cancer Foundation of Iowa (formerly Davids Fight) in memory of David Kinman, who passed away at the age of 36, after a hard fought battle against colorectal cancer. Their mission and passion is to find a way to help families fight this terrible disease. Get Your Rear in Gear in Des Moines allows them to make an impact and increase screening rates, awareness, and provide financial assistance to families affected by colorectal cancer in Iowa. In their free time, they love to spend time with their 14 year old son, Nick. They are active in their community and with their church. David is involved in a variety of projects, and is a high school wrestling referee. Winonah is involved in the local school district, helping start a new nonprofit to provide resources to teachers throughout West Des Moines.
Mike Schmidt, Maddie Borchert, and Hannah Van Hoof | green bay, wi |
This dynamic team plans Get Your Rear in Gear – Green Bay because they care about the health of their community. They dedicate time each year to help spread awareness of colon cancer’s signs and symptoms throughout the greater Green Bay Area. The funds raised are invested back into community programs that help raise screening levels. Colon cancer can be preventable, treatable and beatable if it’s caught early, but yet it is still the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. So the more people they can educate and get in to a screening, the healthier the Green Bay community can be.
Allison Rosen | houston, tx |
Allison is a local Texan, and a 5+ year colon cancer survivor. She got involved with the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K in Houston while getting back in shape after surgeries and treatment. She loves volunteering and is passionate about educating people under 50 about the need for scopes. You are never too young to get colorectal cancer!
Jennifer Ward | indianapolis |
Jennifer is a single mother working in the technology industry. She and her family got involved with the Colon Cancer Coalition in 2013 when their mother was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Jenny was told that she was at high risk for colon cancer twenty years ago when she was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis during her pregnancy. For the last twenty years she has been trying to spread the word that no one should be embarrassed to talk about their colon and colon health. When her mother was diagnosed with colon cancer having had no prior colon health issues, she felt compelled to broaden her messaging about colon health and screening to anyone that would listen. She believes that if people would talk openly about colon health, more lives could be saved. Her goal is to raise as much money as possible so that screening and awareness campaigns can be funded in Indiana to raise colon cancer awareness.
Ginny Goddard | kansas city |
Ginny lost her husband to colon cancer in 2010 when he was 29 years old. Since then, she has been on a mission to raise awareness about this disease in the Kansas City community, especially to young adults.
Stacie Moody | kansas city |
Stacie’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer at 37 and was lost one month after his 40th birthday. His entire family also died from colon cancer at relatively young ages. At 21 Stacie decided it was time to get checked out, and had her first colonoscopy at 26. Now she is working on spreading awareness about the importance of early detection, knowing the symptoms of colon cancer, and getting doctors to be more aware of the possibility of colon cancer among younger adults.
Linda Rittenburg | las vegas, nv |
Linda has been a Registered Nurse for 26 years and is currently the RN Director for the Gastroenterology Department for a large managed care organization in Las Vegas. She lost both of her parents to colon cancer. Later her own screening colonoscopy revealed polyps as well as her 23-year-old daughter’s screening colonoscopy. Together with a coworker she realized there were no events in Las Vegas to promote awareness of colon cancer. After reaching out to the Colon Cancer Coalition to investigate the possibility of starting a race in Las Vegas, the inaugural race was held in September 2017 with 500 runners and walkers, raising over $11,500 to be used for colon cancer screening in Las Vegas.
Bill Carroll | mobile, al |
Bill had a friend that was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and wanted to participate in something to show his support. There was nothing in Mobile for colon cancer awareness, so when he found the Colon Cancer Coalition online, Get Your Rear in Gear – Mobile was born in 2014.
Ashley Loveless | muscatine, ia |
Ashley has lived in Muscatine County all her life and holds this community very close to her heart. She became involved with Get Your Rear in Gear to celebrate her father’s hard fight with colon cancer and has a true passion for helping others and spreading the word about colon cancer. She is proud to help the under and uninsured people in her community screened, and has been truly inspired by the stories of patients that have received screenings through the Get Your Rear in Gear Colon Cancer Screening Fund at Trinity Muscatine.
Katie Robert | new hampshire |
Katie lives in Concord, NH with her husband and two daughters – Madelyn and Norah. She is a public health consultant working for John Snow, Inc., and is the current Board President for the New Hampshire Public Health Association. Katie’s passion for this event was inspired by her mother’s 10-year battle with colon cancer, to which she finally succumbed in November 2014.
Claudia Gutierrez-Paye | new york city, ny |
When Claudia is not working in the dental field she enjoys running, the beach, and spending time with her family. Claudia lost her dad to colon cancer in 2006; since then she has dedicated herself to helping spread awareness.
Alyssa Langenthal | new york city, ny |
Alyssa is a native New Yorker, working as a school counselor with a true passion for helping others. She has always been involved in fundraising but for the past several years has raised money directly for the Colon Cancer Coalition. Alyssa’s journey with colorectal cancer began at a very young age when her aunt was diagnosed and passed away from stage IV rectal cancer. Alyssa is a big advocate for everyone to get screened and motivated to keep the memory of her aunt alive by celebrating the wonderful person that she was. “The years go on but we never forget.”
Vanessa Lal Steinkemp | new york city, ny
Vanessa helped bring Get Your Rear in Gear to New York City in 2010 after the death of a very close friend, Amy K. Covey.
Sarah Mitchell | new york city, ny
Mother to three, wife to one, and friend to many, Sarah Covey Mitchell has been involved in the Get Your Rear in Gear – New York City since 2010. Her sister, Amy, died of colon cancer at the age of 33 in 2009, and the Covey family has been supporting the Colon Cancer Coalition in Amy’s memory. Sarah resides in London, UK with her family.
Crystal Harlow | oklahoma city, ok |
Crystal is a registered nurse and works as a nurse manger in two endoscopy centers in Norman, OK. She was the driving force behind bringing Get Your Rear in Gear to Oklahoma City. She started the OKC race because she wanted to educate the community on the importance of colonoscopy screenings and increase awareness in her community while helping those under 50 understand AGE IS NOT A FACTOR if you are having symptoms, get screened!
Kirsten Mains | oklahoma city, ok |
Kirsten is married and mother of three children. She volunteers her time to plan Get Your Rear in Gear – Oklahoma City while she works two jobs and is a part time student (applying to Nursing School in September 2018). She has been working for GI of Norman since 2013 and developed a passion for colon cancer patients and their families after becoming a part of the gastrointestinal medical field. “We wanted to reach out into the community and provide a fun/family annual event to help raise awareness and raise funds that go directly back to colon cancer prevention,” says Kirsten. “We also wanted to reach out to not only our patients but our hometown, friends, family and neighbors about the risk and prevention resources that are available, to help educate them, and reduce colon cancer in our community.”
Ashley Johnson | orlando, fl |
Ashley is the event director for Orlando, Florida. She is a positive upbeat Florida Gator alumni who is set on achieving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!
Maria Grasso | philadelphia, pa |
After losing her father and grandfather to colon cancer, Maria felt the need to make a difference in her community. In 2009, she partnered with the Colon Cancer Coalition to bring Get Your Rear in Gear to Philadelphia and do just that. They have had tremendous success in raising funds and awareness – over $2 million in 10 years!
Dan Hawkins | portland, or |
Dan is a rectal cancer survivor who loves being the local event director for Portland. It brings him so much joy to know he is helping others.
Jenny Yu | san francisco, ca |
Jenny brought Get Your Rear in Gear back to San Francisco in 2016. Her goal? To save other families from the same pain, distress, heart ache, and frustration her siblings, mom, and friends went through while her father fought stage IV colon and liver cancer. Her mantra? Screening Save Lives. Awareness Save Lives.
Elinor Gingerich | san antonio, tx |
Elinor has been involved with the San Antonio race for four years after the diagnosis of several friends, including her 38-year-old friend from college. That illness made Elinor realize the need for increased awareness, especially for those under 50. Elinor works for AT&T and lives in San Antonio with her husband, son, and two dogs.
Celeste Hayward | tinley park, il |
Celeste has been the co-chair of the Get Your Rear in Gear – Tinley Park since it’s inaugural event in 2009. She is supported by a committee of family and friends who started the event as a way to honor the memory of her husband Rick, who lost his battle with colon cancer just 6-1/2 months after his diagnosis.
Katherine Anderson | tulsa, ok |
Katherine Anderson is a Naturopathic Doctor and currently serves as the Chief, Division of Naturopathic Medicine for CTCA’s five hospital system and as Director of Integrative Oncology at CTCA’s Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, OK. She has a BSc. in mathematics, received her naturopathic degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and received her MBA at Oklahoma State University As Director of Integrative Oncology, she collaborates with a diverse array of experts and other medical personnel daily, to provide individualized, integrative care for oncology patients. She has over 12 years of experience working in an integrated hospital environment providing oncology care to patients.
Jesse Powell | tulsa, ok |
Jesse enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. He started volunteering for Get your Rear in Gear – Tulsa after his mother, Beth Powell, was diagnosed with colon cancer. To honor the fight of her and his longtime friend and colleague, Gerald Dorsey, Jesse formed Team Butt Buddies! After a very successful turn out Jesse was asked to be part of the Get Your Rear in Gear team. It’s his goal to raise awareness for early detection and screening for this terrible disease.
Debbi Wallace | tucson, az |
Debbi is a Tucson-native, diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in 2014 at the age of 44. With a daughter and a son at home Debbi wouldn’t let cancer beat her; she risked missing too much! She got involved with Get Your Rear in Gear – Tucson in 2017 with the goal of spreading awareness, educating people, and encourage screening on-time screening, especially for people experiencing symptoms.
J.J. Sorochty | wichita, ks |
J.J. is a stay at home mom of three busy kids. She became involved with Get Your Rear in Gear when her sister was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at 42. Being a Get Your Rear in Gear event director has been such a rewarding experience!