Group holds 5k, designs car tags to fund colon cancer research

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kathy Harrison of Valley Grande knows what it’s like to go up against colon cancer and win.

Harrison is the daughter of Jimmie Harrison of Maplesville and a two-and-a-half-year survivor who now spends her time raising awareness of the disease and stressing the importance of regular screenings.

“It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and is equally common in men and women,” Harrison said of colon cancer. “Most colon cancer deaths are preventable by early detection. With recommended screening, this cancer can be prevented – by removing polyps before they become cancerous – or detected early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated.”

Not everyone diagnosed with colon cancer is as fortunate as Harrison.

Birmingham native Lisa Martz was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in June 2004 at the age of 48 and died in October 2007.

To honor her memory and raise awareness and funds for colon cancer research, Martz’s family and friends formed Rumpshaker Inc., a Birmingham-based, non-profit organization that holds an annual 5k race.

Since 2009, the organization has raised more than $265,000 through the race, which was recently voted “Best 5k in Birmingham” as part of Birmingham Magazine’s “Best of B’ham 2011” poll.

Rumpshaker Inc. is also working to have a new Colon Cancer Awareness license plate design approved in Alabama.

The license plate is intended to raise awareness and funds for colon cancer prevention and education.

In order for the plate to be manufactured, however, Rumpshaker Inc. must obtain 250 “Commitments to Purchase” by Nov. 30, 2012.

“It is very important that we receive the 250 commitments by November so that we don’t have to start all over,” said Harrison, who volunteers with Rumpshaker Inc.

Of the $50 annual fee associated with the specialized tag, Rumpshaker Inc. will receive $41.25.

Proceeds will be used to further the organization’s mission, which includes funding education programs in the community and making donations to the GI/colon lab capital equipment funds at local hospitals.

The hospitals use lab equipment and technology to detect and surgically remove colon cancer.

“Our founders and volunteers are thrilled with the possibility that our message will now reach the entire state,” said Amanda Vandegrift, Martz’s daughter and president of Rumpshaker Inc. “We are hopeful that others will support our cause by completing a ‘Commitment to Purchase.’ We need 250 ‘Commitments to Purchase’ by the end of November, and we are optimistic that we will achieve our goal.”

The 2012 Rumpshaker 5k Race will be Saturday, March 31 at 8 a.m. at Sloss Furnace in Birmingham.

To register, go to

“I’ve said that I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone,” Harrison said. “At the same time, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“It’s also given me a chance to work with a great organization that works hard to raise awareness so other people will survive,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the day when I hear NED, No Evidence of Disease!”