MENDON, N.Y. — For more than a decade, volunteers have worked to make the Strollin’ for the Colon Toni’s Race 5k an event for awareness. But for colon cancer patients like Dave Fanaro, it has also become a place for support.

“There’s more of an awareness of early detection and what’s available for individuals to be screened and to hear the stories of the survivors as well,” Fanaro said.

Fanaro and his family have participated in the race since it was first organized 11 years ago by Tina Cottone in honor of her sister Toni Moore who passed from colon cancer.

“The importance of colon cancer screening and knowing your family history is big,” said Cottone. “And we want to prevent any more unnecessary deaths from colon cancer.”

This is not only a chance to raise awareness for colon cancer, but a chance to encourage people to get screened.

“Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States and that’s really a shame because it’s largely preventable,” said Dr. Danielle Marino, associate professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Fanaro was diagnosed in March 2021, but Strollin’ for the Colon provided exactly what the family needed.

“Support from our community or and all the people that have either lost someone or are going through this awful disease,” Cottone said.

 “As Dave Fanaro said today, if he hadn’t met Tina and gotten involved in this organization he feels that his cancer journey would be very different,” said Marino. “So I feel like we just have that local homegrown connection to patients and their families.”

And as that connection with the community continues to grow each year, the awareness continues to spread.

“As they’re saying, get screened,” Fanaro said. “Get screened early because you don’t know until you go.”