The Alliant: May 2023

Our volunteers are powered by their passion and by your generosity. Your support propels the Alliance’s robust volunteer program forward and equips our allies to make an impact in their communities, including those like Ashley, Dawn, Deondre, Brianna, and Natalie.

Making a Difference in the Windy City

Both from the Chicago area, Ashley and Dawn share a connection that no one wants to have: the loss of a sister due to stage IV colorectal cancer.

Ashely and Dominique in wedding attire

Ashley (left) with her sister Dominique

Ashley’s sister, Dominique, was starting a new chapter of life in 2020: she had recently gotten married, just had a baby, and moved into a new home. But Dominique began experiencing frightening symptoms and at age 34, she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer.

She died in September 2022.

Dawn and Jean arm around

Dawn (left) with her sister Jean

Dawn’s story tragically echoes Ashley’s story. Dawn was only 14 years old when she and her sister, Jean, lost their father to colorectal cancer. After her own colorectal cancer scare, Dawn encouraged her sister to get screened. But Jean’s doctor refused because of her young age. A few years later, Jean was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, and died at the age of 39.

For each of them, losing their sisters galvanized their involvement in the Alliance. Ashley participates in local outreach initiatives for the Alliance, and pitches BlueHQ, a unique, centralized care platform for colorectal cancer patients and caregivers, to secure partnerships and encourage registrations. She also serves on the Never Too Young Task Force.

Dawn began volunteering at a local outreach event in Chicago and then also joined the Alliance’s Never Too Young Taskforce. Now, Dawn is leading the charge as host for the 2nd Annual Blue Hope Bash Chicago taking place shortly on May 11.

Their involvement brings much needed attention and support to colorectal cancer in Chicagoland. Your investment has allowed both Ashley and Dawn to honor their sisters’ memories and – through their volunteer work – help ensure other families avoid the heartache and loss they each experienced.

Advocating for Change: Deondre’s Story

At 35, Deondre Williams found himself celebrating his birthday and the birth of a brand-new baby girl from his hospital room; he had recently been diagnosed with stage II colorectal cancer, and the doctors had also found a carcinoid tumor in his lungs.

Following his diagnosis, Deondre spent a few tough – but successful – weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries to remove the tumor and cancer. After his recovery, Deondre wanted to give back and his nurses suggested he get involved with the Alliance.

Deondre close up at camera

In 2018, he started his volunteer journey as a spokesperson for one of the Alliance’s online men’s groups. He then began sharing his story through local outreach in his community of Covington, Georgia.

Today, Deondre is a superstar volunteer. He has spoken at local churches, staffed tables at medical conferences for the Alliance, hosted events in March to bring attention to preventative measures, and shared his own experience with colorectal cancer.

It is all thanks to you. Because of your generosity, the Alliance is able to identify, train, and activate incredible volunteers, like Deondre, who raise awareness and make a difference for others navigating colorectal cancer.

Read Deondre's blog

Walking to End Colorectal Cancer

Brianna Mercker (pictured in the middle beside Alliance staff member Chelsea Edwards) and Natalie Phelps (pictured left) met at the Alliance’s 2020 virtual volunteer conference, AllyCon, and bonded over their journeys as young mothers diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. Brianna has 7 year-old twins and Natalie has a three-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.

Three women at Walk to End Colon Cancer

As a volunteer, Brianna committed herself to create and chair the inaugural Seattle Walk to End Colon Cancer in 2022. After meeting Natalie, she enlisted her for the Walk Committee. Together, they recruited sponsors for the event, each created their own Walk teams with more than 100 participants, and helped raise more than $115,000. Now they are preparing for the next Seattle Walk as co-chairs, slated for October 7.

Through their shared journeys and your generosity, Natalie and Brianna have not only developed a great friendship but are also raising awareness for colorectal cancer. Because of your support, they are building a legacy through their hard work on the Seattle Walk to End Colon Cancer.

Sign up for a Walk near you 


2022 volunteer statistics




Hours served


Never Too Young Taskforce members

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