I signed up for my first Seattle Race for the Cure in 1996 and was so moved by the experience I began a relationship with the Komen Puget Sound Affiliate that has spanned more than 15 years.
At that first race, the only breast cancer survivor I knew was my grandmother. Since then, my mother and her older sister have been diagnosed and successfully treated. Odds are one of my sisters, cousins or I will be faced with a breast cancer diagnosis in the future.
Komen has always been there for my family, providing us with valuable information, helping us understand diagnoses, treatment options, risk factors, genetics and so much more. I know dozens of women and families who also benefited from Komen support and services as they faced a breast cancer diagnosis. Thousands of women in Western Washington are alive today due in part to the good work of the Puget Sound Affiliate.
Back in February, when the controversy around Komen National’s funding of Planned Parenthood grants became public, I wrote about my concern that critical local programs would no longer be funded due to the backlash.
This concern has become reality.
With Race registrations down over 40%, funding for next year’s grants looks grim.
13,000 people participated in the 2011 Puget Sound Race. Numbers for Sunday’s race are just over 7,000. As the affiliate’s largest fundraiser, this directly translates to less money for free mammograms and critical support programs for women in our community. Earlier this month, the affiliate funded $2.1 million in local grants, including a $1.3 million grant to the state breast health program.
Several years ago a friend of mine, about a mile into his first Race for the Cure, looked at me and said “You know, these are people who give a damn.”
You see, the Race is about more than Komen. It’s about our community.
For my family and so many others, it’s a time to reflect on the impact breast cancer has had on the people we love. It’s a time to remember loved ones lost, support those currently fighting and to celebrate the lives of those who have beat breast cancer.
If you’ve participated in the Race before, you know what I’m talking about. If you have never done the event, I invite you to join me on Sunday morning at Seattle Center and see the side of Komen I know and love.
You will not regret it.