Maureen McLaughlin is a daughter, wife, mother and woman on a mission. Inspired by colon cancer survivors in her family, Maureen started the annual Colon Cancer Crusaders 5K Fun Run and 1 Mile Walk, an Undy Community Event in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Now in its third year, the run/walk shows no signs of stopping and we’re happy to honor its creator and event extraordinaire as our Hero of the Month!
Tell us about yourself and the Colon Cancer Crusaders 5K Fun Run and 1 Mile Walk!
I am a physician assistant married to my best friend and mom to the happiest, most outgoing one-year-old in the world (with my second little miracle on the way!). My husband and I are blessed to come from loving homes with four amazing grandparents for our children. Within the past six years, however, my mother-in-law and my dad were both diagnosed with colon cancer. While watching each of them fight their battles, I decided I needed to do something to try to fight with them.
After doing some research, I learned about the Colon Cancer Alliance and the Undy Run/Walk, which seemed like the perfect fit! I wanted to get our families involved while also promoting our health. With the larger Undy races being a bit too inconvenient for most of our family and friends, I decided to organize an Undy Community Event. What first began as a convenience has turned into a highly anticipated yearly event to celebrate our two survivors! It’s been a great way for each of us to donate to a cause that really hits home. The event is always filled with plenty of hope, love and support all in an effort to knock out colon cancer!
You just organized the third annual event. How has the run/walk grown over the years and what do you hope to see in the future?
This race has turned into an event that all of our families and friends look forward to. They’ve truly become committed to the cause and push each year to raise the bar. This year brought in our highest donations yet! I hope to see this event continue to grow in donations, but I also hope this event helps participants and donors become more aware of colon cancer.
Every year, my favorite moment is when we take our post-race photo! It’s the moments after everyone has reached their goal of finishing the race and I get to remind them about why we’re all doing it. There’s so much love and compassion in all of the participants’ eyes in that photo. Capturing it each year and having our survivors present means the world to me.
All of the proceeds from your event help fund the Colon Cancer Alliance mission. What was it about the Colon Cancer Alliance and the Undy Run/Walk that inspired you to create a Community Event?
Working in healthcare, I know how important preventive health and awareness can be. I was looking for an organization that used donation money for research, but also understood the huge benefit of public awareness and, especially, patient resources. Every year I run this race, I hope it encourages someone to look into the details of this disease or get a colonoscopy. More importantly, I know how useful patient resources can be for individuals and families dealing with the disease. In all of this, we as the Colon Cancer Crusaders team get to do something for our own health by running in support of the cause.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start an Undy Community Event?
Do it! It’s something that not only supports an amazing cause, but also helps bring communities together. I never feel more fulfilled than when our event comes to a close and I get to announce our final tally to our team and remind them of all the good it will do.
To find an Undy Run/Walk near you, visit undyrunwalk.org. Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.