Susan G. Komen was only 36 when breast cancer claimed her life in 1980. But before she died, her sister Nancy Brinker made a promise: She would dedicate her own life to preventing this tragedy in others.
In 1982, she established the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening, and treatment.
This year, the Komen Foundation celebrates its 1.5th birthday nationwide. The organization that Nancy Brinker began in Dallas with the help of a few friends and a few hundred dollars of her own money now has chapters in almost 80 cities across America.
Komen’s Race for the Cure debuted in Dallas in 1983 with about 700 women taking part. This year, the October 18 event will draw more than 13,000 to NorthPark Center. In a total of 77 cities, over 400,000 will participate, which makes this race the nation’s largest 5K series.
In its first year, the Komen Foundation funded two research grants for a total of $30,000. Today, $8.5 million is supporting 66 national grants and 250 local grants in communities throughout the country. The Foundation has become America’s largest private funder of research devoted solely to breast cancer.
In 1983, one woman sat at the Foundation’s telephone to answer calls for information and assistance. Now the Komen toll-free help line, staffed by volunteers with personal knowledge of breast cancer, fields some 22,000 requests a year.
Fifteen years ago, “breast cancer” were two words with the most frighteningly negative connotations. Today, the passion to help has grown along with scalat-ing hope. From a standing start in Dallas in 1982, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is now racing at top speed toward the cure.