by KIM HILSENBECK
As Breast Cancer Awareness month kicks off this week, funding for some of the free screenings and other breast health services offered by area organizations may be in jeopardy.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation, one of the country’s largest nonprofits funding breast cancer awareness programs, mammograms and research, reports that it is facing record-low fundraising this year.
“Fund raising for the year is at $45,000. Compare that to September 2011 when it was $66,834,” said Allison Murray, a spokesperson for Komen Austin.
Murray said registration for the organization’s Race for the Cure – which typically helps raise about $1.5 million annually – is down this year. In fact, last year’s Race for the Cure also saw lower than expected returns, raising only $642,000.
Just under 1,700 people have signed up for the race, scheduled for Nov. 4 in downtown Austin, according to Murray. That’s more than 200 fewer than the same time last year.
Last year’s race data show there were 18,000 participants in the race, including 1,200 breast cancer survivors.
Granted, Murray said most registrations come in October up to and including race day. Still, overall donations and race registrations are down this year compared to 2011.
Murray said a combination of factors may be contributing to the
organization’s fundraising short fall, including a sluggish economy. Charitable giving is down overall across the country.
Some less than favorable publicity about the Komen Foundation earlier this year surrounding funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood may have also affected donations. However, Murray said that issue was resolved when the organization re-evaluated its funding criteria.
Murray said the focus right now is maintaining funding to keep service levels at or near where they have been in the past few years to help people in our local communities.
“Three-fourths of the money raised locally stays in the five-county area of Central Texas,” Murray said. “The rest goes to help fund cancer research.”
Funding from Komen Austin has a tremendous impact on women and men in Central Texas, according to Christy Casey-Moore, the executive director for Komen Austin.
“The Komen Austin Foundation funds more than 2,500 services annually,” Casey-Moore said.
She said they measure services provided rather than people served because many patients receive more than one service as a result of Komen Austin-funded organizations.
If donations remain low, Casey-Moore said organizations that receive grants for breast health programs won’t be able to fund as many services, which can have severe effects on women in Central Texas.
“Some programs could find funding elsewhere, but many will be forced to cut back on life-saving services to women who truly need them,” Casey-Moore said.
This year alone, more than 1,068 mothers, sisters, daughters and friends will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 178 will lose their battle in the five counties served by Komen Austin.
“We really need the community’s help to make sure these services stay in place. This race is the perfect time to honor those who have been impacted by breast cancer by raising funds to support the local women, men and communities fighting this disease,” said Casey-Moore.
To donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation or register for the Komen Austin Race for the Cure, visit www.komenaustin.org.
- Breast cancer screenings at County Health Department 05/5/2010
- Lobos recognize survivors during Pink Week 10/19/2011
- Pink activities scheduled county-wide 10/3/2012