Top Alliance Moments of 2023

Top Alliance moments of 2023

By Steven Bushong

Top Alliance Moments of 2023

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is a nation of allies. We’re the largest and most impactful colorectal cancer nonprofit because of the dedicated and passionate people who invest time, money, and spirit into our work. We are incredibly grateful for everyone's support of the mission to end colorectal cancer.

But what does that support look like? Here’s what allies helped make happen in 2023: 

LEAD FROM BEHIND launched again and again 

With a mission to make colon cancer famous, LEAD FROM BEHIND pushed its way to the forefront of the national conversation twice in 2023 — first with Terry Crews, in character as President Camacho from the movie Idiocracy, and then with Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Dak Prescott. LEAD FROM BEHIND, an Alliance initiative produced in partnership with Ryan Reynold’s creative agency Maximum Effort, harnesses celebrity appeal to raise awareness of “The Preventable Cancer.” The initiative's first video, featuring Reynolds and Rob McEllhenney, won several accolades this year, including two golden Anthem Awards.     

Project Cure CRC reignited a research focus 

Announced in November, Project Cure CRC renewed our effort to invest tens of millions of dollars in expedited, novel colorectal cancer research over the next two years. The largest fund in Alliance history kicked off with a $1.6 million grant for research at MD Anderson Cancer Center focused on patients with microsatellite stable (MSS) disease. In December, the Alliance convened more than 100 CRC experts from across the world to chart a course toward a cure. 

BlueHQ offered innovative support

The Alliance announced BlueHQ, a one-of-a-kind and innovative digital support hub, in January. A colorectal cancer diagnosis is difficult enough. BlueHQ makes finding reliable information and tools to navigate this disease easier for patients and caregivers. By creating a profile, users are directed to personalized resources, including expert-vetted information and peer communities. BlueHQ seeks to illuminate the path forward among patients who too often feel alone.  

#WalkLoud amplified awareness in 17 cities

Allies in 17 cities pounded the pavement and raised a stunning $1.5 million at the Walk to End Colon Cancer, a 27% increase over 2022 results. A total of 13,593 participants stopped the silence, rejected the stigma, and canceled the killer, sharing why they #WalkLoud with their friends, families, and communities. The walks in Denver and Seattle led in fundraising, but every city experienced the healing power of being unsilenced, together. 

CRC awareness month hit big in the media 

A media tour featuring Dr. Cedrek McFadden and survivor Karen Woomer kicked off the month, with life-saving messages reaching 5.9 million viewers on 28 stations. A humorous public service announcement, “But, Stuff,” aired 7,551 times in March alone. Board member and TODAY Show anchor Craig Melvin broadcasted from the Cologuard Classic on the Alliance’s Dress in Blue Day with dozens of our allies. Numerous outlets ran a story about the late musician and Alliance volunteer James Casey, raising awareness of young-onset CRC. Most of these efforts directed viewers to our screening quiz, which delivered more than 10,000 screening recommendations in one month.

AllyCamp fired up volunteers 

AllyCamp, a retreat for 22 volunteer leaders who are exceptionally dedicated to the mission of ending colorectal cancer, visited the Alliance’s headquarters in December, meeting staff, the Board of Directors, and supporters. The campers each attended eight training sessions on topics such as fundraising, media engagement, and volunteer recruitment. After enjoying time to bond with one another, practice self-care, and tour D.C., the campers returned home better equipped, highly connected, and more enthusiastic than ever to realize a world free of colorectal cancer. 

We broke bread with Feeding America

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance forged a groundbreaking partnership with Feeding America, the largest charity in the country. The collaboration raised awareness about colorectal cancer prevention among at-risk populations across the country, including through the distribution of a health brief received by thousands of foodbank users. Feeding America is a natural ally. Diet and consumption play a significant role in the incidence of colorectal cancer.

Communities learned 45+ Reasons to get checked

In August, the Alliance launched 45+ Reasons, a campaign to get more than 5,000 Black Philadelphians screened for colorectal cancer, with funding partner Independence Blue Cross. The campaign supports the Cycles of Impact initiative launched by Independence and the Alliance in 2022. 45+ Reasons enlists the help of colleagues at Penn Medicine, Salix Pharmaceuticals, and hundreds of local community health, religious, and Black-owned businesses and organizations, to educate at-risk communities about CRC prevention. Radio, digital, and social media advertising accompanied the launch, highlighting the stories of community members.  

CRCtalks magnified critical conversations 

In August, the Alliance announced an interactive web series called CRCtalks. Leading experts in colorectal cancer care and treatment participate to amplify the types of conversations they have one-on-one in treatment centers. Attendees can ask questions, take part in polls, and learn more about navigating colorectal cancer. The first talks focused on topics including wellness after treatment, emotional health, and clinical trials. Registration for CRCtalks is free and open to the public. 

Bottoms Up Invitational raised more than $1.2 million

TODAY Show co-anchor Craig Melvin and his wife, sports reporter Lindsay Czarniak, hosted their second-annual Bottoms Up Invitational in 2023, raising more than $1.2 million. With more than 500 attendees at the concert and 125 golfers, multiple celebrity appearances, and generous sponsors, partners, and donors, this inspiring philanthropic moment was an excellent reminder of what can be accomplished when people come together. The Bottoms Up Invitational is in honor and memory of Craig’s brother, Lawrence Meadows, who died from colorectal cancer at age 43. 

Alliance honors survivor Trey Mancini at Bash

At the Alliance’s annual Blue Hope Bash fundraising gala, MLB World Series champion Trey Mancini was presented with the inaugural Blue Star Award, honoring an individual who displays conviction and unwavering dedication to the Alliance’s mission. Mancini, a stage III colorectal cancer survivor, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 28 in 2020, and he has since been an outspoken advocate and partner of the Alliance. Mancini’s wife, Sara Perlman Mancini, former host from NBC Sports, played a pivotal role in the Bash as emcee of the event, which raised nearly $1.3 million.

A partnership to drive progress in health equity 

The Alliance reinforced its commitment to health equity through a partnership with Cottonelle and BLKHLTH, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the impact of racism on Black healthcare. The three organizations worked together to support colorectal cancer prevention for Black Americans through education, in-kind donations for screening, and financial support for colonoscopies. Colorectal cancer disproportionately affects Black Americans, who are 15% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease and 35% more likely to die from it. With early detection, the disease has a greater than 90% survival rate.

Alliance heads to the White House 

Alliance CEO Michael Sapienza participated on a screening-focused panel during the White House Cancer Moonshot Colorectal Cancer Forum in March. Sapienza emphasized that colorectal cancer is highly preventable, and with better access to timely screenings, more research, greater education, and higher funding, it is possible to end this disease in our lifetime. He was joined by other Alliance partners and advisors, including BLKHTH Co-Founder and President, Matthew McCurdy; Alliance Medical Scientific Advisory Committee members, Dr. John Marshall and Dr. Nilo Azad; and Alliance Board Chair, Lee Dranikoff.

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