A 14-year awareness campaign that originated with the support of one area family received a boost of encouragement from a collaboration with another family committed to giving back to the communities it serves.

Thirteen years ago, Michael Moran and Maura Staback approached the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute in Pennsylvania to create an initiative in memory of their mother, Helen Phillips, who died from colon cancer in the summer of 2002. Together they created C.A.S.U.A.L. (Colon cancer Awareness Saves Unlimited Adult Lives) Day in March, 2003. This campaign focuses on early detection and screening for colorectal cancer.

From those early days, family-owned Benco Dental has shown support, and in recent years the national dental distributor’s associates and its Benco Family Foundation champion this annual outreach, which receives assistance from individuals and corporate sponsors across the seven counties it serves in Pennsylvania.

“This event was begun in memory of Helen Phillips and (her name) remains on our logo. Her family came to the Cancer Institute after she passed … she didn’t have a colonoscopy and they felt strongly that if she had that she would still be with us,” said Karen Saunders, Northeast Regional Cancer Institute President.

Nearly 540 new cases are diagnosed, and over 200 patients die from colon cancer each year in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties combined.

“Our incidence and mortality rates here are much higher than the national average. That is why the awareness created by this event is so important: the message is reminding people to get screened.”

Benco Dental associates purchased C.A.S.U.A.L. Day pins and T-shirts, another initiative at the home office generated additional support and the Benco Family Foundation matched funds raised for a total donation to the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute of $689, according to Andrew Ruth, Benefits and Compensation Specialist for Benco Dental.

“I have greatly enjoyed being a part of all our community outreach programs, especially C.A.S.U.A.L. Day,” said Ruth, who oversees the company’s Community Boosters group.

“We also raised money by hosting a Jeans Day at the home office in Pittston; associates paid $1 to wear jeans to work on March 30. The Benco Family Foundation graciously matched all the funds raised,” he said. Ruth referenced the Benco Family Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the dental health and quality of life in our communities, locally and globally.

Shown, on March 30, at Benco Dental’s home office in Pittston, Pennsylvania are some of the associates who purchased T-shirts to support the cause, with members of the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute Team. First row, from left, are: Benco associates Carrie Krott, Anna Scutt, Lori Wallace, NRCI Community Relations Coordinator Amanda Marchegiani, Northeast Regional Cancer Institute President Karen Saunders, and Benco associate Michelle Waschek. Second row: Benco associates Tina Kay, Sarah Lucas, Rita Kosicki.

Though C.A.S.U.A.L. Day has passed for 2017, the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute offers several opportunities through which people can support its mission, according to Amanda Marchegiani, the organization’s Community Relations Coordinator.

“We are part of NEPA Match Day, an initiative of the Scranton Area Community Foundation which will take place May 5. Two upcoming volunteer and committee driven events in which NRCI is the benefitting organization include Duryea at Dusk, a festival featuring a 5K and 1 mile walk on June 3 in Duryea’s community park and Buzz Off Cancer, hosted by Mick’s Barber Shop in Honesdale on June 24,” said Marchegiani.

For additional information regarding C.A.S.U.A.L. Day and how to support the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, visit: CancerNepa.org.