Thousands take part in Gary Papa Run for prostate cancer awareness

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Sunday, June 19, 2016
VIDEO: Gary Papa Run
Thousands took part in the 2016 Gary Papa Run.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Sunday marks seven years since we lost our Action News sports director Gary Papa to prostate cancer.

Ever since, the annual Father's Day run has been held in his honor to raise awareness about the disease.

Runners took off down the Ben Franklin Parkway this morning with the sun shining. Some were celebrating Father's Day, some were remembering a loved one - all of them were a part of the fight against prostate cancer.

Jeff Skversky remembers Gary Papa during the 2016 Gary Papa Run.

"My grandfather had prostate cancer. Our whole family has done it, this is the first year I'm doing it, this is the first year (my son) is doing it," said Ryan Casey of Collegeville, Montgomery County.

The 14th annual Gary Papa Run was held on the 7th anniversary of Gary's death. His six-year battle with prostate cancer ended in 2009, just before Father's Day. After that, the race was named in his honor.

The run, which includes a 10k, 5k and a fun walk, raises money for the Foundation for Breast and Prostate Health, which is based in Philadelphia, and provides screenings and educational programming.

One of the participants was 70-year-old Donald Cummiskey. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 16 years ago after he was urged by his daughter, a nurse, to get checked out.

"The doctor told me we'll keep track of it and my daughter, Jennifer, told me, 'No I want to go farther.' " So that's when they found it, with the biopsy they found it," said Cummiskey of Wissinoming.

"If I wasn't persistent and didn't love my dad so much, who knows what could've happened," said Jennifer Gibson of Marlton, New Jersey.

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Thousands took part in the 2016 Gary Papa Run.

Gary's wife, Kathy, says her favorite part of Sunday's event is seeing the survivors who return year after year.

"A gentlemen came over, he's a survivor, and he said, 'Every year I get a photograph with you.' And I just started to well up," said Kathy Papa.

For the first time, Gary's son, Nathaniel - now 18 years old - spoke during the awards ceremony.

"Too many of you understand what a difficult day this is. Just remember that our priority is to stay focused, continue education and promote awareness," said Nathaniel.

"I wish he had never heard of this disease, quite frankly. But he did, and I feel it's a great opportunity for him as a young man to promote awareness in his generation," said Kathy Papa.

Among the award recipients was WMMR radio host Steve Morrison, of Preston and Steve. He's also a prostate cancer survivor.

"For all intents and purposes when people say Steve you beat your battle with cancer, I never had a battle because of early detection," said Morrison.

More than $300,000 has been raised so far this year. You can still donate at