Tara Polk of Brandon is currently the event organizer for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s Undy Run/Walk to End Colon Cancer.

In January 2017 at the age of 46, Tara Polk of Brandon was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer that had spread to her liver. After two major surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy, she is now being closely monitored through blood work and scans.

Polk became aware of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance through her colorectal surgeon, Dr. Jorge Marcet. Wanting to help in any way possible, Polk was honored to give the Survivor Speech at the 2019 Undy Run To End Colorectal Cancer event and in early 2020 she served as one of the event’s coordinators.

“The Colorectal Cancer Alliance exists to end this disease in our lifetime, and the pandemic has created a new need and numerous challenges that are critical to address for the colorectal cancer community,” Polk said. “The alliance is addressing those challenges within our pillars to screen, care and cure.”

To support the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s programs to screen, care and cure colorectal cancer, the Undy Run/Walk to End Colon Cancer is continuing to raise funds and spread awareness, even if not in the traditional way.

“To keep the community safe, we have pivoted the Tampa Walk to End Colon Cancer to be virtual with a fun, socially distanced, drive-through activation,” Polk said. “We are encouraging people to register online for free at ccalliance.org/TampaWalk, fundraise and spread awareness leading up to the Tampa Walk, but then walk on February 27 in their own neighborhoods with family or close friends before joining the drive-through victory lap celebration, our safe onsite activation.”

The victory lap will be from 10 a.m.-12 Noon on Saturday, February 27, 2021 and participants can trade their walking shoes for a decorated car to drive through to celebrate and pick up their Tampa Walk swag bags.

“Just a handful of volunteers will be on-site wearing masks, social distancing, regularly using hand sanitizer, while cheering for participants driving through in their cars and placing the swag bags in the trunks of cars to stay safely distanced,” Polk said. “Each swag bag will include a pair of boxers, goodies from sponsors and educational material on colorectal cancer and the alliance. All colorectal cancer patients and survivors will receive their 2020 Survivor Medal and anyone who hits fundraising levels of $100 and above will receive their fundraising items, such as the walk-branded pop socket, shoulder sling bag and thermal water bottle.”

To learn more about the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s Undy Run/Walk to End Colon Cancer or to participate in the event, visit www.impact.ccalliance.org/event/2021-tampa-walk-to-end-colon-cancer.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.