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Last year, Jamie Chapman and Theresa Warner's team, Wilson's Warriors, made $17,000 for the Colon Cancer Coalition. This year, they're trying to raise more money for the annual Get Your Rear In Gear walk by holding a fund raiser at the American Legion on May 1.

Getting their rears in gear

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life Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
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Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

They say cancer touches everyone at least once in a lifetime. For Theresa Warner, that's true. But for her, it's not just any cancer - it's colon cancer that has taken a friend, and is stealing her father.

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So she wants to do something about it. To get her rear into gear, so to speak.

Warner and her friend Jamie Chapman are planning an event to raise money for the Colon Cancer Coalition's Get Your Rear In Gear walk, scheduled for May 16.

It was about a year ago Warner's friend, Jennifer Wilson, died from colon cancer. As her friend battled the disease, Warner and her other friends struggled to understand what it was all about. She hadn't really heard much about that strain of cancer before, she said.

But then, her dad, Ken Kuchera, was diagnosed with the same disease. And as he's fought his battle, Warner has learned more than she had ever hoped to know. More than she ever wanted to know.

"It's an ugly, ugly disease," she said.

Kuchera is the retired Farmington fire chief. One of his good friends from the fire department, Brad Parker, also died of colon cancer.

"It's hit the community hard," Warner said. "That really affected my dad when (Brad) died."

Between losing a friend and watching her father fight, Warner decided to try to do something - anything - to help. If it meant raising awareness of the disease, she'd do it. If it meant raising money for a cure, she'd do that, too. She joined the Colon Cancer Coalition and joined a team for the annual Get Your Rear In Gear walk.

She didn't want to just raise a couple hundred dollars, though. She wanted to raise a good amount. So, last year, she scheduled a fund raiser at the Farmington American Legion. It was a beer bash, with a silent auction and raffle. It netted about a third of her final donation.

But her co-workers and the company she works for, Cole's Salon, joined in the cause, too, by scheduling fund raisers within the company.

When her team showed up for the walk last spring, Warner's team turned in about $17,000.

"It was just unheard of in the colon cancer walk," Warner said, "because it's so new, a lot of people haven't heard about it yet. They were just shocked. It was just crazy."

Maybe her team was a bit too successful, because Warner and Chapman were subsequently asked to become chairmen of the Colon Cancer Coalition for 2010. It was a little bit of a surprise to be asked, she said, but it's also given her a chance to meet with many doctors and experts and learn more about the disease.

"We get to go to a lot more events and talk to more doctors about colon cancer. I have a lot more insight than I did before, but it's also hard because my dad has colon cancer, too," she said.

Another benefit

Since the 2010 walk is just a few weeks away, Warner and Chapman are hard at work again, trying to raise money for this year's walk. And that means there will be another fund raiser May 1 at the Farmington American Legion.

The cost is a donation of $10, which goes directly to the Colon Cancer Coalition as part of Warner's team donation. The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., and includes a raffle and silent auction that includes several pieces of signed sports memorabilia from Minnesota's professional teams.

Her dad was able to attend last year's event, but Warner doesn't know if he'll be up to making it to this year's event. Kuchera has good days and bad days. And all of them tug at the strings of his daughter's heart.

"It's definitely a suffering disease. It's awful. It's not fun to watch someone you love in pain," Warner said. "He has better days, but I don't think there's a day where he says he feels 100 percent."

This is only the sixth year for the Get Your Rear In Gear walk. It's a 5K walk, run and kid's fun run held at Southdale Center in Edina. Anyone interested in former a team or volunteering can get more information at www.getyourrearingear.com.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
(651) 702-0974
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