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My partner, best friend and soul mate of 19 years, Richard Bessette, was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer on January 11, 2013. We decided to treat this aggressively and scheduled the surgery to remove the 7 cm tumor on January 21. On March 4th, 2013, Rich began his first of eight chemotherapy treatments (Xeloda and Oxaliplatin). 

Just a few days prior to his first session of chemo, he really wanted to participate in the San Diego Undy 5000 so he could meet and gain inspiration from survivors and others who are currently fighting this horrible disease. In just six short days, we set out and started fundraising through social media (Facebook), emailing, texting and any other way we could reach out to our friends and family. I was able to raise $4,055 and was Top Individual Fundraiser and our team of five - "Team We Can Do This" - raised a total of $5,285 and was 4th overall team in fundraising!

Now for the good news. Rich completed his six months of chemotherapy (8 cycles) on August 17th, 2013. On Thursday, January 9th, 2014, Rich had a follow-up colonoscopy and...the results came back CLEAN. NO CANCER!

This year, we thought about how we were going to begin fundraising and decided using social media (Facebook and Twitter) was the best way. And, why not try to raffle bowling balls in our leagues, since both of us are very competitive bowlers and have numerous friends that either own, or work in pro shops, along with knowing the local bowling center General Managers. We raffled three different bowling balls and it was a great success!

[caption id="attachment_1523" align="aligncenter" width="498"]Patrick and Rich join with friends during their bowling ball raffle fundraising event. Patrick and Richard join with friends during their bowling ball raffle fundraising event.[/caption]

On Monday evening at Parkway Bowl, while Rich and I were bowling, a team member (Ellen Palmer) sold raffle tickets. On Tuesday evening at Kearny Mesa Bowl, a close friend (Dan Starkey) donated his time and sold raffle tickets for us while we were bowling. And on Wednesday at Kearny Mesa, Yogi Rusk, Rich and myself sold tickets and raffled a third ball. Between the three bowling ball raffles, our total raised was $1,833. One ball was donated by Bowler’s Depot and two bowling balls by Kearny Mesa Bowl, and we thank them again for their support.

We’ve always known that we have truly amazing friends and family, but over the past year since Rich was diagnosed with colon cancer, they’ve been more than amazing. Everyone is really showing their support to us and to the Colon Cancer Alliance and we can't tell them enough how much we appreciate the love and support we're receiving.

Rich and I are grateful to our IGBO (International Gay Bowling Organization) family from all over the country, the San Diego Bowling community,  my McCutcheon High School classmates from back in Lafayette, Indiana and all of our extended family and friends near and far everywhere. You've all been so generous to us and we love you so very much.
Than you everyone, from the bottom of our hearts.

Patrick Shipley and Rich Bessette
Spring Valley, CA

To find an Undy 5000 Run/Walk near you, visit www.undy5000.org


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