Running the Race Against Cancer in Brooklyn

Cancer survivor and Resurrection Church, Gerritsen Beach, parishioner Dan Foster hosted Dan’s 5K, Sept. 14. More than 100 runners and family members of the Resurrection CYO track team ran in the race. (Photo: courtesy of Margaret Martin)

Parish in Gerritsen Beach raises $18K


GERRITSEN BEACH — We all can unfortunately rattle off a list of names that we know who have been touched by cancer.

In Gerritsen Beach, many residents know Dan Foster, a lifelong parishioner at Resurrection Church and a two-time cancer survivor who serves as an inspiration to the neighborhood for his charitable works.

For Foster, though, the Catholic Youth Organization track runners from Resurrection are his inspiration.

More than 40 members of the Resurrection boys’ and girls’ track teams and their family members participated Sept. 14 in the annual Dan’s 5K for the 10th consecutive year. In total, more than 100 race participants had ties to Resurrection’s CYO track squad.

Foster, a retired employee of Brooklyn Union Gas, where he worked for over 43 years, was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1996. He had been rushed to the hospital with stomach pains thinking it was kidney stones, but a colonoscopy revealed evidence of cancer. After 30 radiation treatments and a 10-hour surgery, Foster was deemed in remission.

“I realized how lucky I was and that I was giving a lot of others hope,” Foster said. “That’s how I got involved with a number of cancer organizations.”

On June 6, 1999 — National Cancer Survivors Day — Foster began a walking journey from the Montauk Point Lighthouse on Long Island to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Traversing nearly 150 miles, Dan’s Walk of Hope took seven days and helped raise awareness for cancer screening, as well as $22,000.

Foster, however, found out the hard way that cancer is unpredictable. Just two months after completing the walk, Foster learned his cancer had metastasized to both lungs. After surgery on each individual lung and eight months of chemotherapy, he was back raising funds for great causes.

After a three-day trip walking the borough of Brooklyn in 2002, he decided to keep his passion in the Gerritsen Beach neighborhood in 2003 by starting Dan’s 5K. From the very beginning, James Ditucci-Cappiello, the current head CYO track coach at Resurrection, ran in the race.

Also a lifelong parishioner at Resurrection, “Coach Cap” has known Foster for many years through Little League baseball in the area. Since 2009, all Beach Rat Runners from ages 5-13 have participated in the event.

“I pride myself with this team that we have no rules,” said Ditucci-Cappiello, the grand marshal for this year’s race. “But the only rule I have is that if they’re going to be on the team, they have to run in Dan’s 5K!”

For even the older CYO track runners, the maximum distance they run during the fall season is just over 1 mile. So these youngsters exerted all their energy as they completed the 5K course (3.2 miles).

“It was pretty hard, but it was very important and is a neighborhood thing,” said Ryan Beenders, 12, a Resurrection CYO track runner who attends Good Shepherd Catholic Academy, Marine Park. “We’re like a family.”

Just as these CYO track runners never gave up during Dan’s 5K, Foster never quit in his battle against cancer. He’s now been in remission for more than 20 years.

“He’s (Foster) an inspiration,” Ditucci-Cappiello said. “He keeps coming back, and he keeps fighting it. It really is an inspiration to everyone.”

In total, Dan’s 5K raised over $18,000 — with $6,000 in contributions coming directly from Resurrection’s CYO track team. Foster donates the funds each year to a different cancer organization, and this year’s recipient was the AliveAndKickn Foundation. To date, he’s helped raise $250,000 for cancer research.

“It’s the community that makes it happen,” Foster said. “I may have started it, but it’s the community that really comes together to donate money or make the baskets.”

Foster is living proof that even when we get knocked down, the hope and will to fight through any challenge can guide us on our journey.

Contact Jim Mancari via email at