We continue to be inspired by the hundreds of volunteers spearheading efforts to put colon cancer on the map and changing the face of this disease. That’s why we started the Volunteer of the Quarter feature, which honors some of our most passionate, dedicated volunteers.
This quarter we’re celebrating Steve Godri, who, along his family, started Steph’s Fall 5K in honor of his sister Stephanie Godri-Johnston, who passed away from colon cancer in 2012 at just 32. To celebrate Stephanie’s love of cross country running and help people in need get screened for colon cancer, proceeds from the annual run/walk help fund the Stephanie Godri-Johnston Memorial Scholarship, as well as our Blue Hope Financial Assistance program (in four years, the Godri family has raised $15,000 in support of this important program). Learn more about Steve, Steph’s Fall 5K and his advice for anyone looking to honor a loved one.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I live in the western suburbs of Philadelphia with my wonderful wife and two energetic toddlers. I work for a large financial services firm as an investment accounting manager.
Can you tell us about Stephanie and her passion for running?
Stephanie ran cross country from 7th grade through her senior year in high school and always led by example. She had an incredible work ethic and took a lot of pride in her performance. Growing up just north of the Pocono Mountains, Stephanie loved fall, which was right in the heart of the cross country season.
When did your family start Steph's Fall 5K and how has it grown throughout the years?
We organized Steph’s Fall 5K a few months following her passing in 2012. It was an idea we just thought about, but it really gained momentum when Stephanie’s former classmates, knowing her love of running, reached out to me asking if we considered doing a 5K. One of the biggest challenges in organizing the run/walk is maintaining the numbers from the prior year; due to how close it was to Stephanie’s death, the first year saw the largest turnout. Where we have grown over the years is event sponsorship and people that want to donate money and time to her cause.
How did your family decide what organizations would receive the proceeds from the race?
From the start, we knew we wanted to fund a memorial scholarship at the high school that would benefit a track/cross country athlete that possessed the same all-around characteristics Stephanie had. Understanding how expensive getting a colonoscopy can be, we weren’t sure how much of an impact we would have financially, so we wanted to focus on raising colon cancer awareness.
While planning the first Steph’s Fall 5K, amusingly, I had originally reached out to the Colon Cancer Alliance to ask about buying or renting an inflatable colon. The Colon Cancer Alliance was incredibly responsive and a pleasure to work with. I spent more time on the website and worked with an extremely helpful staff (special thanks to Vice President of Development Nicole Sheahan and Development Coordinator Ali Ornitz!). We decided any funds in excess of covering the scholarship would be donated to the Colon Cancer Alliance for screening assistance.
We’re proud to know we’re helping people receive screening assistance in hopes that another family won’t have to experience the loss of a loved one to colon cancer at such a young age. We are also incredibly grateful for the support from the community—runners, walkers, sponsors, donors and volunteers—they’ve been amazing.
What advice would you give someone looking to start an event in honor of their loved one?
Have a goal, brainstorm and plan, but most importantly remember why you’re doing it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’d really like to thank the Colon Cancer Alliance for their support and appreciate you featuring our run/walk!
Visit our website to learn ways you can get involved. Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help!