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CheckIt4Andretti signs partnership to provide free colonoscopies for low-income patients

John Andretti colonoscopies

NEW YORK - MAY 25: Indy 500 driver John Andretti signs autographs at Macy’s and IZOD’s celebration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 at Macy’s Herald Square on May 25, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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CheckIt4Andretti Charitable Foundation, which was formed after the death of racing star John Andretti from colorectal cancer, announced a new partnership Tuesday to offer free colonoscopies for low-income patients.

Northeast Digestive Health Center in Concord, North Carolina, will provide the free colon cancer screenings at a charitable clinic that serves those without insurance or limited access to health care.

“The potential to save lives through early detection of colorectal cancer is enormous,” Nancy Andretti, founder and president of CheckIt4Andretti, said in a release. “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.”

CheckIt4Andretti worked with the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to identify high-risk, low-income patients (served by a member clinic in Salisbury, North Carolina) who will be receiving the screening procedure.

The foundation is working to secure additional partnerships in North Carolina and Indiana, where Jarett Andretti, Nancy and John’s son, lives and where the family’s racing heritage has deep roots.

Jarett Andretti drives in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series for Indianapolis-based Andretti Autosport, and his LMP3 team will race this weekend in the Twelve Hours of Sebring after winning the pole position for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

John Andretti, who would have turned 59 on March 12, was known as among the most versatile winners in auto racing with victories in several major-league series including NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and NHRA. He died Jan. 30, 2020 after a lengthy battle with cancer that was discovered in his first colonoscopy at 52.

Last year, the American Cancer Society lowered the recommended age from 50 to 45 for beginning regular screenings of colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths (more than 50,000 annually) in the United States. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“I hope my father will be remembered for using his own diagnosis to shine a spotlight on the importance of early detection,” Jarett Andretti said. “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 was established 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. The partnership with Northeast Digestive Health Center was formed through Nancy Andretti’s connection to Dr. Vinay Patel, her own gastroenterologist at the center.

“CheckIt4Andretti has found the perfect focus for its mission because low-income individuals are much less likely to have access to diagnostic screenings,” Patel said. “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.”