With temperature highs in the low 50s, Saturday was a bit chilly for running an obstacle course dressed in only underwear, but that is exactly what some Harley Davison owners did.
Wearing boxers, long johns or other underclothes, participates walked, ran or rode their motorcycles in the Undy 500, held outside Classic Harley Davidson in Bern Township.
The awareness-booster and fundraiser benefitted My Gut Instinct, a nonprofit created by Dr. Aparna Mele.
A physician with Digestive Disease Associates, West Reading, Mele said she started the nonprofit as a means of empowering people to take part in their digestive health and wellness.
“Basically, we’re just raising awareness of colorectal cancer and the importance of screening,” she said. “Why wait to see the doctor when something is broken?” she asked. “Why not take charge of things beforehand?”
All who took a lap around the course received a free pair of boxer shorts emblazoned with the Harley and My Gut Instinct logos; a free do-it-yourself stool testing kit, on request, and a coupon for a free motorcycle oil change at Classic Harley Davidson.
“We’re using the theme of cleaning your pipes,” Mele said, “both your internal pipes, as well as the pipes on your bike.”
The idea behind the event, she said, is to use humor to diffuse the sometimes-intimidating prospect of a colonoscopy.
Though the testing process can be distasteful, she said, colorectal cancer is far more frightening.
“Colon cancer is the second highest cancer killer in the U.S.,” the doctor said, noting about 50,000 people in the U.S. die of colorectal cancer each year.
The disease equally affects men and women, Mele said.
Treatment is much more successful when the cancer is caught earlier, she said, and that is where regular screenings can help.
“The colon isn’t a sexy organ,” she said. “Unlike ‘saving the tatas,’ the colon is sort of something that people tend to shy away from discussing because it can be an embarrassing part of the body. So we are using tongue-in-cheek humor to turn something that can be frightening into something fun.”
While most participants pulled the boxers over their street clothes, fitness wear or long johns, Matt Jackson striped down for a bare-chested, briefs-only look before getting on his bike.
“I had to do it,” said Jackson, marketing director for Harley dealership. “This was my idea.”
Jackson said he and Mele exercise at the same gym and came up with the concept while working out together.
The doctor hopped, fully clothed, onto the back of his bike for a lap around the course.
Saturday’s run was the second of its kind, Jackson said, noting they hope to make it an annual event.
Despite the weather, he said, there was a great turnout.
“It’s getting the word out on colon and colorectal cancers,” he said.
There were also prize raffles, live music and opportunities to schedule a physician screening.