Seattle Komen Race for Cure sees drop in donations, participants
Seattle's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday took in $1.1 million, a $500,000 drop from last year. Even though the national Komen organization quickly reversed its decision to stop sending money to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screening, many people remained angry at the original decision and stayed away from Komen events around the country.
Seattle Times science reporter
In past years, it took well over a thousand dollars to crack the "top 100" list of individual fundraisers at Seattle's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. But this year, the $770 Julie Ainsworth-Taylor cajoled from family and friends was enough to earn her the No. 80 slot.
"It's too bad," said the Sammamish woman, a breast-cancer survivor three years removed from radiation treatment. "The controversy brought donations down."
Indeed, the total take for the annual event was $1.1 million, half a million dollars less than last year. The 8,500 people who walked or ran Sunday represented a 40 percent drop.
"We weren't surprised," said local spokesman Jim Clune. "Komen programs across the country have taken a hit."
The fallout comes from a decision by the national Komen organization to cut funding for breast-cancer screening at Planned Parenthood clinics. Seattle's local chapter, and others across the country, protested what they saw as a misguided, political move. The national organization quickly reversed course early this year, and continues to fund Planned Parenthood. But the incident angered many of Komen's supporters.
If the organization hadn't changed its mind, Robbie Ames said she wouldn't have been walking the 5-kilometer course on Sunday — let alone wearing a fuzzy pink hat and a pink stick-on mustache. "I thought it was horrible for Komen to turn away" from Planned Parenthood, said the Seattle woman.
Ames' sister, Stephanie O'Neal, who flew in from Arizona to join the race, said she didn't want to see Komen's good work suffer — a sentiment shared by many participants. "I think they deserve a second chance."
Most of the money from the Seattle event will go to local programs, particularly mammograms for low-income women and women without adequate health insurance, Clune said. About a quarter of the funds are devoted to research programs. Eighteen percent of the money goes to cover the cost of staging the race and other fundraising efforts.
Dale Ferguson, of Bonney Lake, said he would have been happy to see Komen sever ties with Planned Parenthood over the latter's support of abortion rights — which he opposes. The Bonney Lake man was walking Sunday with a "Unions Against Breast Cancer" sign in support of a member of his church who was diagnosed with the disease.
Jeannette Ash was also carrying a sign, declaring her allegiance to the "TaTa Supporters." The group formed three years ago when Ash's daughter was diagnosed at age 28. Then 18 months ago, Ash discovered she also had breast cancer.
Both women are now cancer-free, thanks largely to quick diagnoses and Seattle's excellent medical facilities. But the Renton woman said she worries about women who don't have access to that level of care — which is why she's upset to see politics undermining Komen's programs.
"Because somebody made a decision in an office somewhere, it's hurting all of the innocents on the ground," Ash said.
The local Komen branch has other fundraisers coming up, and Clune said he's optimistic support will rebound. "We're going to work real hard to fill the gap."
Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or firstname.lastname@example.org