John Andretti foundation receives new boost in cancer battle

Charitable foundation CheckIt4Andretti and Northeast Digestive have teamed up to give diagnostic screenings for colorectal cancer to high-risk, low-income groups to improve chances of early detection and survival.

John Andretti foundation receives new boost in cancer battle
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John Andretti, a winner in IndyCar, IMSA and NASCAR, should have turned 59 this month, but since his death from colorectal cancer just over two years ago, his family has been honoring his legacy on and off the track. 

As son Jarett Andretti prepares to compete in the Twelve Hours of Sebring this weekend, the CheckIt4Andretti Charitable Foundation is pushing its efforts to promote early detection of colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. 

The foundation has signed a new partnership with Northeast Digestive Health Center in Concord, NC, that will provide colonoscopies free of charge to select low-income patients from a local free and charitable clinic that serves people who have no health insurance and limited access to health care.

“The potential to save lives through early detection of colorectal cancer is enormous,” said Nancy Andretti, John’s wife of 32 years and founder and president of CheckIt4Andretti. “We are grateful to Northeast Digestive Health Center for helping CheckIt4Andretti fulfill our mission of making these screenings available to those who need but can’t afford them.”

Nancy Andretti established the foundation following John’s death to promote the importance of early detection and provide free screenings for high-risk, low-income people who are uninsured, underinsured or too young to qualify for insurance coverage. 

She forged the partnership with Northeast Digestive Health Center through her relationship with Dr. Vinay Patel, her own gastroenterologist at the center. The foundation is working to secure additional partnerships in North Carolina and Indiana, where Jarett lives and where the family’s racing heritage has deep roots. 

“CheckIt4Andretti has found the perfect focus for its mission because low-income individuals are much less likely to have access to diagnostic screenings,” said Patel. “Northeast Digestive Health Center thanks Nancy Andretti and the foundation for the opportunity to save lives and honor John’s legacy at the same time.”

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. More than 50,000 Americans are expected to die this year from colorectal cancer, which trails only lung cancer as the deadliest form of cancer.

Based on new guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American Cancer Society in 2021 lowered its recommended age to begin regular colorectal cancer screenings to 45 years old from 50 previously. 

“I hope my father will be remembered for using his own diagnosis to shine a spotlight on the importance of early detection,” said Jarett Andretti. “And I hope other providers will follow the compassionate lead of Dr. Patel and his team at Northeast Digestive Health Center to help us expand access to potentially life-saving cancer checks.”

CheckIt4Andretti worked with the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to identify high-risk, low-income patients served by one of the organization’s member clinics – the Community Care Clinic of Rowan County in Salisbury – who will be receiving the screening procedure.“Free and charitable clinics are committed to expanding access to quality health care for the uninsured,” said Randy Jordan, CEO of the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. “We are indebted to partners like CheckIt4Andretti and Northeast Digestive Health Center who help make it happen where the rubber meets the road.” The association hopes to work with CheckIt4Andretti to find additional health care providers to make more colorectal screenings available to patients of its member clinics across the state, Jordan said.

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