Seattlites Resist Donating to Susan G Komen's Race For a CureMay 25, 2012 @ 5:34 pm (Updated: 9:29 am - 5/28/12 )
By Rachel Belle
Last year, 14,000 people pinned on pink ribbons and walked, jogged or ran in Seattle's Susan G Komen Race For a Cure, to raise money for breast cancer prevention and research. This year, they're seeing a 36 percent drop in registration for the June 3rd race.
It was back in January when the national Susan G Komen organization announced they were cutting grant funds to Planned Parenthood. It was seen as a political, pro-Life decision and the nation went into a frenzy. Three days, a few Susan G Komen employee resignations and half a million dollars worth of public donations to Planned Parenthood later, Komen reversed it's decision. But it was too late. A lot of people, across the country, made the decision to stop supporting Susan G Komen, and redirected their dollars towards Planned Parenthood instead. Now, executive director for the Puget Sound Susan G Komen for the Cure, Cheryl Shaw wants to set some things straight.
"We were not a part of the decision, we were not a part of the discussion. We were informed, as the public was informed, of that national decision. As the public voiced their concerns, we previously had voiced our concerns and and had requested that the decision be changed. It was not changed and so here we are."
She hopes that people who have halted their donations, and involvement with Race for a Cure, will come back around.
"We operate independently. We do our own fundraising. All of the funds that we raise, 75% stays here in this community to help local women and then 25% goes to national research, global research, to find a cure. None of our funds go to national administration."
I asked Cheryl if she thinks Susan G Komen should be getting involved in politics.
"Absolutely not. Our mission is to save lives and our focus is on the women that we serve and should always be that way. I think what is disheartening is that decisions that are made by individuals who are not donating to Komen are affecting women. We see headlines about 'Komen is going to be hurt,' 'Race For A Cure' is going to be hurt.' Women in this community are going to be hurt. We stay focused on the women that we serve and the mission that this organization is all about. And that's to save lives."
To put it into perspective, Cheryl says a 36% drop in participation means 30% fewer mammograms for local, underprivileged and uninsured women.
"I'm upset. I am a survivor and I'm concerned because with our fundraising the way it is now, I know that there are going to be women who do not get screened early enough in order to have treatment that they deserve. I'm concerned and I'm also upset because I think that whenever we make decisions on an organizational level, or an individual level, it's beyond us. We have to think outside of ourselves in order to determine who, ultimately, is impacted."
Cheryl knows that some people are directing their money towards other women's health organizations, but she says no one else focuses on breast cancer like they do.
"If they don't come back and fund those women through Komen, in essence, the women are still losing. That's what I'm very frustrated about is that we have been put in a situation where we have to defend the fact that we serve underserved women. We have never wavered from that, we will never waver from that. As a survivor, as a woman who grew up in an underserved population, as a woman of color, this is extremely personal and it's very important."
Click here for information on how to sign up for the June 3, 2012 Race For the Cure in Seattle.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.