Colon cancer and its preventative measures provide a unique challenge to patient advocacy groups, because the subject is sensitive and slightly embarrassing at times. This is where the Undy 5000 comes into the picture.
The Undy 5000 was created in 2008 by the Colon Cancer Alliance in an effort to raise awareness and encourage discussion about the realities of colon cancer and the high rates of recovery after early detection. To quote them directly, “We have found that by getting people to talk about the disease, we can save lives!”
What makes this event unique is not where or when it’s held, but the encouraged uniform. As the name suggests, participants are encouraged to run in their undies, specifically boxers, to help bring the attention to the area of the body affected by colon cancer. Its gimmicky, its catchy, and it also works. What can start as a joke can open a conversation and end with a commitment to get tested.
The Colon Cancer Alliance is not only the oldest, but also the largest patient advocacy organization dedicated to patients of colorectal cancer. Their goal is to increase screening rates, and therefore survival rates. Additionally, the organization provides public education, patient support, and crucial funding for research. The reality about colorectal cancer is that no one wants to talk about it. We’ve all been taught since pre-school that this is an area of the body that we deal with in private and never discuss in public. It is the goal of the Colon Cancer Alliance to change this reality, because with colorectal cancer, early detection is key. Raising awareness is the first step, and large groups of people running around in their underwear all across the country is a great way to do just that!
This type of event planning model is highly innovative and shows how taking a fresh look at a proven fundraising formula can create something new and exciting for participants. With each event, participants are offered a compelling value proposition as they are able to have fun, increase awareness, and raise funds while taking part in something that benefits their community. Through the use of fun and excitement, the Colon Cancer Alliance has been able to build an event that increases awareness about a serious condition. They have proven that these conversations can be started over something fun without seeming crude or being uncomfortable for those asking the important questions. Although in just its third year, The Undy 5000 is quickly gaining momentum and achieving its goals, proving that creativity and unconventional thinking can be fundamental in working around peoples’ inhibitions and furthering a cause.