Sunday walk, events raise awareness of colon cancer
If Team Tony was a baseball team, it would have won the league championship.
If Kayla Nastari was auditioning for “American Idol,” she would have been nominated for a Grammy Award.
If local Cub Scouts were trying to earn additional badges, they would have been elevated to the prestigious honor of Eagle Scout.
And if the Warwick Police Department’s (WPD) SWAT Team were hunting down a fugitive, the person would have come crawling out of hiding.
Team Tony, Kayla Nastari, Cub Scouts and the WPD’s SWAT Team were only a fraction of more than 400 people who helped make Sunday’s 5th Annual Colon Cancer Alliance of Rhode Island 5K Run/Walk an overwhelming success.
“Wow, there’s a ton of people here today,” exclaimed Lori Raymond, a retired WPD officer whose husband Keith succumbed to colon cancer at age 50 three years ago.
“This was no doubt the largest turnout ever; if this gets any bigger, they might just have to change venues,” she said.
While Warwick City Park’s softball fields and surrounding facilities were jam-packed Sunday morning, parking was at a premium for the annual Colon Cancer 5K to raise funds – and more importantly awareness – about the dreaded and silent attacking disease.
“What’s really super,” Raymond said, “is that my team has people asking if they can still donate. And I’m sure that’s the case with all the other people and teams that were here today. You get choked up with people’s kindness.”
Team Tony, which was named in honor and memory of Anthony Nastari Jr., who died on Feb. 21 of this year at age 67 after a three-and-a-half-year battle with colon cancer, won the award for having the most walkers. The group, which was clad in royal club T-shirts with the late Nastari’s picture on the front, had upwards of 60 walkers.
Team Tony is like Keith’s Walking Warriors – and other groups that entered Sunday’s event.
“We raised $1,100 before today,” Anthony Nastari III said. “But we haven’t added up all the donations and there are still more coming in. This was a special day for a lot of people.”
It was Anthony Nastari III’s 13-year-old daughter, Kayla Nastari, though, whose singing of the national anthem brought tears of joy and that sent the thunderous sound of human hand-clapping echoing through City Park.
“She was a tough act to follow,” said Pat Taft, one of four members of an a cappella quartet known as the Alley Cats (Lori Nelson, Carroll Venable and Chris Gagnon), who all have ties to people who have suffered or lost a battle to colon cancer. “It’s a good thing I had my dark glasses on; that little girl has nerves of steel and what an extraordinary voice.”
Kayla Nastari was one of two youngsters who co-starred during Sunday’s opening ceremony. The other was Jake Raymond, 5, who gave the official countdown and started the 5K run and walk.
“On your mark, get set, go!” Jake, who was dressed in a special Keith’s Walking Warriors T-shirt and shorts, shouted into the microphone.
Will Fritz of Wilbur Road Race Management said nearly 290 people entered in the walk/run. The event raised more than $9,000.
The Alley Cats sang a rendition of “Accentuate the Positive,” a song once made famous by legendary artists such as Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.
“That’s exactly what everyone is doing today,” Raymond said. “We’re all placing emphasis on the positive rather than the negative. It’s important to get the word out about colon cancer. It’s a silent killer; my husband had no symptoms until our son was born.”
During the actual run and walk, members of Cub Scouts Pack 1 in Warwick manned the water station. They were Nate Moore, Doris Moore, Cameron Grilli and Josh, Rebecca and Christina Befumo.
Warwick’s Robert Corsi, 35, won the 5K, covering the 2.63-mile course inside City Park in 15 minutes and 50.43 seconds. Michael Mullen, 40, of Littleton, Colo., took second in 17:10.99 and Steve Bailey, 52, was third in 20:29:10. Warwick’s Mark Warrener, 32, placed fourth in 20:55.48.
Suzanne Bailey was the top women’s runner in 20:58.14 while Mandy Zito took second in 21:53.14. The first two walkers were members of Team Tony, Linda and Harold Morsilli, 66 and 68 respectively, with times of 40:12.89 and 40:13.35.