Mt. Laurel resident organizing annual ‘Get Your Rear in Gear’ Colon Cancer Society fundraiser

Walks and runs for the event are scheduled for March 26. Nominations for survivor and caregiver awards are due March 1.

Mt. Laurel resident Maria Grasso is all about having locals get their “Rear In Gear,” figuratively and literally.

Driven by the loss of her father and grandfather to colon cancer, Grasso organized her first “Get Your Rear in Gear” event in Philadelphia in 2009 as part of the national Colon Cancer Coalition’s series of fundraisers across the nation.

Set for March 26, this year’s event looks to once again help colon cancer survivors and their supporters raise funds to fight the disease with a four-mile run, a two-mile remembrance walk and a Kids Fun Run.

“I think we’ve just created a movement where people can feel comfortable talking about this disease and have some kinship with others going through the same battles they are,” Grasso said.

Yet even now, more than a month before this year’s event, GYRIG Philadelphia is already asking locals to get their “Rear in Gear” by submitting nominations for the event’s 2017 survivor and caregiver awards.

This year, GYRIG Philadelphia will award its eighth annual Maude Daniels Award and its third annual Guardian Angel Award.

According to Grasso, the Maude Daniels Award honors the spirit of a colon cancer survivor or current patient, while the Guardian Angel Award honors colon cancer caregivers and advocates.

The Maude Daniels Award is named for Vineland resident Maude Daniels, who survived colon cancer for more than a decade before passing away in 2010. GYRIG Philadelphia’s website describes Daniels as someone who transformed the lives around her with a “positive, giving and generous” spirit.

“Whatever stage they are, we ask people to nominate them and talk about their spirit,” Grasso said. “We have great candidates all the time. Some unfortunately are under 30, and some are older. This disease really does affect everyone.”

Grasso said event organizers decided to add the award several years ago due to having so many award nominations in prior years that also included stories of colon cancer caregivers and advocates.

“The people who support people with cancer are heroes, too,” Grasso said. “They’ve also got a difficult job helping and supporting these people with cancer while also maintaining the rest of their lives.”

This year’s awards will be presented at the ninth annual GYRIG Philadelphia event, scheduled for Sunday, March 26, at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.

Organizers for the event will be accepting nominations for the awards through March 1. Those who wish to submit a nominee in 300 words or fewer can visit www.coloncancercoalition.org/get-involved/maude-daniels-award.

As for the event itself, Grasso said registration is also now open. According to Grasso, GYRIG Philadelphia has raised almost $2 million since 2009, and she expects this year’s event to bring in more than 4,000 participants.

“I think just touching these people and looking at their faces, I know we’ve created something they want to be a part of,” Grasso said.

To register for this year’s event in Philadelphia, those interested can visit www.ColonCancerCoalition.org/Philadelphia or contact Grasso at mariagrasso@getyourrearingear.com or (856) 371–9238.