Cedarhurst nonprofit helps to fight colon cancer


Inspired by one employee who lost his father to colon cancer and supported by other co-workers, including one who lost her mother to breast cancer at least 15 staff members of the Cedarhurst-based nonprofit Labor & Industry for Education will take part in the Colon Cancer Coalition’s “Get your Rear in Gear” 5K Run in Manhattan’s Riverside Park on Oct. 17.

Alex Simon, LIFE’s customer service manager lost his father, Victor, to colon cancer in 2000 and the death he said was a shock; first because his dad was only in his 60s and second because after the diagnosis, Alex learned that the disease is one of the more preventable cancers if detected early enough.

“The potential is when caught early there is a high curability rate,” Simon said. “I have never done much advocating, but for people of a certain age they should get a colonoscopy to get tested.” For the uninitiated, a colonoscopy is a medical exam used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine, known as the colon, and rectum.

LIFE Trust Counselor Danielle Scarpulla said fighting all cancers and increasing awareness is “near and dear to my heart,” especially after losing her mother, Francine, to breast cancer in 2016. “Any type of cancer effects a family,” Scarpulla said, “I’ve always done walks.”

Simon said his dad was a “typical man’s man” who like many men did not historically visit the doctor and noted that a majority of men make excuses not to go.

“When you have the ability to go, go,” he said. “Don’t be scared of the test. I’ve had and it was the naptime in my opinion. It gives you peace.” Thinking of all the milestones his father missed, he does not want that taken from him.

Courtney Plush, LIFE’s Trust Department manager, said she was not surprised that staff volunteered to take part either a run or walk participant or to man the LIFE water station during the race.

“[Alex] mentioned always getting together to give back,” she said. “As a nonprofit we just decided to give back and this is very close to his heart. We decided on doing it here in New York and that everyone wanted to do it was great.”

That nearly every employee is involved is a testament to the family-like environment that Scarpulla said envelopes the LIFE office and something she felt since her job interview nearly two years ago.

“The vibe was very, very friendly and Alex and Courtney had that presence.”
For Simon, a native Californian, he said he is, “proud of my team and it’s very touching,” that many will be involved in the event. “They are more friends than co-workers, Simon said.

Labor & Industry For Education is a nonprofit providing a variety services to underserved communities across New York state for more 30 years. For more information, go to www.lifetech.org.

Registration for the Colon Cancer Coalition’s “Get your Rear in Gear” 5K Run ends at midnight on Oct. 13. Colorectal cancer patients and survivors can sign up for free. Go to donate.coloncancercoalition.org.