CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Mindy Conklin always gets a reminder of the legacy her husband left behind when she visits his boulder at Clover Hill High School’s stadium.
“In memory, we play on,” Mindy reads from the plaque on the large rock placed outside the field in Rich Conklin’s honor.
Rich, the football team’s beloved coach, died from colon cancer in 2011.
“There’s a lot of silence that surrounds the disease, and we both knew we needed to do something,” Mindy says.
She and Rich’s loved ones founded a nonprofit in his honor, Hitting Cancer Below the Belt.
It started in 2012 with a race called the ‘Boxer Brief 5K’ and has become a full-blown education campaign about colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women.
“A lot of people still think this is an old man’s disease, and it’s not,” explains Mindy. “Diagnosis is rising considerably in the age 20 to 35 population.”
Hitting Cancer Below the Belt works with Access Now to provide colonoscopies to the under-insured. The effort follows a message Richmond left to his family and friends to “help others.”
“I know he’s around,” Mindy says. “I know his energy is here.”
Hitting Cancer Below the Belt distributes Healing Belly Baskets to patients to help build their immunity. Nutrition workshops at Ellwood Thompson’s stress the link between diet and diagnosis.
Mindy says the programs are a way Rich can save lives even in his passing.
“He would want it this way,” she says. “This is what Rich wanted. He wanted to make sure people didn’t succumb to this disease like he did.”
The fifth annual Boxer Brief 5K is happening Saturday, June 3, 2017 at Stony Point Fashion Park. The start time is 8:30 a.m.
There is a Bubble Run for children aged 8 and under beginning at 8:00 a.m.