Santa Claus + Colorectal Cancer = Todd Setter
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What do Santa Claus and colorectal cancer have in common? Todd Setter. For the past five years, Setter has been raising eyebrows and money with his Santa Cause fundraiser.
The event premiered in December 2004, six years after Setter's father, Ron, passed away from colon cancer. Since then, the Santa Cause Pub Crawl has raised over $30,000 to help CCA with education and resources and more importantly, it has helped spread awareness about the prevalence of the disease and the importance of early screening and detection.
Ron Setter's fight against colon cancer was dramatically short; he passed away 240 days after being diagnosed. "My father went in for a sigmoid and they missed it, they didn't do a full colonoscopy," explained Setter. In his search for understanding, he came across the Colon Cancer Alliance. "I wanted to give back -- I think it's a good cause and I believe in what CCA is trying to do in terms of awareness and insurance issues -- it's difficult in terms of what's covered or not," said Setter.
Setter got the idea of a Santa pub crawl after walking into a bar and having his attention stolen by a Santa and Mrs. Clause having drinks. He decided his location was perfect for hosting such an event. "San Diego gives the opportunity of having a lot of things close," observed Setter.
The only rules to participate are that everyone has to dress in red and white or a Santa costume. "It makes it very unique when you have 60 to 100 Santas walking down the street in red and white. Its kind of a shocker," exclaimed Setter.
Setter's family, particularly his sister, help out as well as his friends in the building and material industry. The event started with 20 people, and in 2007, they had 106 participants. Even with 2008's economic crisis and fewer attendees, Setter said they still had similar donation ratios for the number of people who attended.
Setter used his networking skills to ask for assistance from local organization and institutions. "I just asked -- explained to people what I was doing and I asked. One out of two people want to help and I've just asked for anything they could do," explained Setter.
Setter's favorite moment of the night is when he gets to take a step back and look at everyone enjoying the evening. "It feels good that they're there for colon cancer."
Over the course of the night, Setter and all his helpers will make it to seven different parties. "It's difficult because you're constantly moving. But that's what makes it so unique. It's very organized. It's not your typical 22-year old group pub crawl. It's a more sophisticated group," said Setter.
People between the ages of 21 and 65 attend. The average age is mid-40s -- the perfect age to be reminded about getting that first preventative colonoscopy. "Whenever a friend is over 50, I am all over them to have their colonoscopy. And I continue to ask people, whether I know them or not," said Setter.
The Setter family started having regular colonoscopies after their father was diagnosed. "It's not as bad as people think and they get better each time," noted Setter.
Setter wants to encourage others who want to join the fight. "I think that to do a fundraiser is easier than you think; the hardest thing is giving yourself enough time in planning -- to do it right you have start planning early and make it a little different so people remember and want to come back."
Setter said that for the pub crawl, everyone donates up front and the money goes straight to CCA. He and his and friends cover the costs of the actual event. His Web site gets 10,000 hits every year drawing invaluable attention to the cause.
Reflecting on his father's cancer, Todd stated, "We decided as a family -- instead of dying with cancer he was going to live with cancer." The elder Setter volunteered for procedures at Mayo Clinic because he felt that if he was too far along it would at least help the next person. Todd discovered that a lot of people don't know what to say and people sort of back off a little bit. "I learned that there's nothing that needs to be said, just being there, being who you are and realizing they're the same person is the best thing you can do," said Setter.
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