A Brief Run: Hundreds of people to run in their underwear for a good cause

by Mike Meehan

Several hundred people dressed in their underwear gather in Forest Park to run or walk. Some wear only their underwear. Others wear boxer shorts or their underwear on the outside of their clothes. What would possess hundreds of people to run around the park in their underwear?

They are supporting a cause that is typically not discussed openly – colorectal cancer. The group is bringing into the open the impact that colorectal cancer has on the lives of millions of people.

Almost 1,000 people will walk or run the Undy 5000 5K in St. Louis on March 23 to honor friends and family members affected by colorectal cancer and to increase awareness of the disease.

Among the crowd is Alissa Murphy, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer at 36 years of age.

The event has become a tradition for her and her family and friends.
“The treatments were long and challenging both physically and mentally. I was very fortunate to have a tremendous amount of love and support from my family, friends and church and a tremendous team of doctors and staff, all working to heal me,” she says reflecting on her bout with the disease.

She’ll celebrate six years of being cancer free this spring.

Also among the survivors is Ironman triathlete Teri Griege, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer in 2010.

“It takes a special kind of person to say ‘I have colorectal cancer’. It’s not an easy thing to talk about, she explains.

Still living with the disease and continuing treatments, Griege has become an advocate for creating awareness of colorectal cancer by attending events, such as the Undy 5000, to tell her inspirational story. “I want to be an example for others,” she says.

Colorectal cancer affects everyone - men and women, people of all nationalities, races and ages. According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, “colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S.”

The Colon Cancer Alliance helps combat the disease by creating awareness of the disease, funding screening programs and providing support to those affected by it. The organization created the Undy 5000 5K to get the discussion about the disease out into the open by bringing together and providing support to survivors and caregivers.

“The Undy 5000 is a reminder to me how fortunate I am to be here today and that each day is gift. It is wonderful to see all the colorectal cancer survivors together, in what I consider a celebration of life,” says Murphy.

So when you see hundreds of people running and walking through Forest Park in their underwear, join them in this “brief run” to bring attention to colorectal cancer.

The St. Louis Undy 5000 is Saturday, March 23 in Forest Park. It is also being held in fifteen other U.S. cities. Click here for more information and to register. visit.