A local nonprofit has raised enough to replace a giant inflatable colon stolen more than a week ago — and it can even purchase a second one.
In addition, officials from the Edina-based Colon Cancer Coalition, owners of the colon, said police in Kansas City, Mo., recovered the original stolen colon Monday afternoon outside a vacant house.
Thieves stole the inflatable colon-like tunnel from the back of a vehicle in Missouri on Oct. 18, perhaps thinking there was something else inside the nondescript, 150-pound shipping container.
“Why would someone take that?” said Erin Peterson, spokeswoman for the Colon Cancer Coalition. “It’s an educational tool, it has no value to anyone else.”
The $4,500 inflatable colon, a 10- by 12-foot tunnel people can walk through, travels to health fairs and other events around the country and was kept at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. It gives people a visual representation of what doctors might see during a colonoscopy, including features like polyps.
“It’s a conversation starter,” said Peterson, adding that the nonprofit owns another colon in Minnesota.
Initial efforts to raise money to replace the colon on the nonprofit’s website brought in $860. Last week, two medical companies donated about $10,000 more, bringing the total to about $11,000. Quest Diagnostics, a New Jersey-based laboratory testing company, and North Carolina-based Salix Pharmaceuticals donated the funds.
“They both wanted to chip in and get us new colons, and we said, ‘That’s wonderful,’ ” Peterson said.
The colon was manufactured by Burnsville-based Landmark Creations, which makes inflatables for trade shows and stage productions. Steph Meacham, co-owner of the company, said they have made 218 such colons out of vinyl-coated nylon since 2005.
While the theft was disappointing, the “silver lining” is that more people are talking about colon cancer. “The stolen colon keeps on giving,” she said.
Detective William Richter of the Kansas City Police Department said no one is in custody for the colon theft.