Thousands join cancer rally

Students participated in the WebMD Rock `n’ Race to Fight Colon Cancer Sunday on the National Mall. The five-kilometer walk raised money and awareness for colorectal cancer.

Thousands gathered on the Mall to watch the end of the walk and listen to music by Paul Simon and other artists.

Sponsored by Aetna U.S. Healthcare, a national insurance company, and WebMD, an internet company that provides health care information, Sunday’s event was the first-ever WebMD Rock `n’ Race.

The event’s organizers said they hoped the walk would serve as an important fist step in the battle to eradicate colorectal cancer, according to the walk’s Web site.

The Rock `n’ Race was initiated by Katie Couric, host of The Today Show’s, Lilly Tartikoff, a national philanthropic leader in the fight against cancer, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, in conjunction with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, according to the walk’s internet site.

The organizers hoped to generate awareness and funds for research about colorectal cancer, which refers to any cancer beginning in the colon or rectum. The condition, which mostly affects people older the 50, is the second-most-common cancer in the United States, behind lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute’s Web site.

About 57,000 people will die from the disease this year, killing more Americans than AIDS or breast cancer, according to the Web site.

More than 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases can be cured when caught in the earliest stages of the disease, medical experts say.

Two-thirds of those who have died from colorectal cancer may have avoided death through simple screening and prevention methods, according to the Web site.

I’m glad I came out, said freshman Eunice Cho, who participated in the event. It seems like such a such a noble cause and I’m happy to do my part to help.

Co-founders Couric and Tartikoff, along with NYPD Blue’s Dennis Franz and St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Eric Davis attended the event.

Davis is a cancer survivor, and Couric’s husband died from the disease in 1998.

Rosie O’Donnell was the Rock `n’ Race’s cyber host. The Web cast allowed people from across the country to join the day’s events over the internet.

I watch the Today Show all the time and I was touched by Katie Couric’s story, freshman Suzanne Jordan said. She lost her husband and her daughters lost a father to something that could have been prevented.

Featured performer Paul Simon provided the highlight of the event with a free concert on the Mall following the race. The Max Weinberg Seven, the band from Late Night with Conan O’Brian, also played.

I thought that Paul Simon’s music was a complement to the spirit of the event, freshman Philippa Castiaux said.

All of the money raised from the WebMD Rock `n’ Race through donations and collected pledges is used to fight colorectal cancer.

The co-founders and the NCCRA said they hope to use the money raised from the walk to develop better screening tools and, ultimately, find a cure for colorectal cancer.

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