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Local Komen event registrations lag last year's slow pace

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Participation in Indianapolis’ massive annual Race for the Cure fundraising event took a hit last year as controversy swirled around policies at the national Susan G. Komen organization. This year, Mother Nature is getting the blame.

“The biggest factor has been the weather,” said Dana Curish, executive director of the Central Indiana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen.

Race day has dawned chilly and wet for the last few years, Curish said, and the storm that dumped several inches of snow on the Indianapolis area last month didn’t do much to spur interest in spending a Saturday morning outside.

Less than two weeks before the April 20 event, registrations were lagging 2012’s slower-than-normal pace. More than 13,000 people had signed up by April 8, down from about 16,000 at the same time last year.

Curish is hopeful this week’s more seasonable weather will get folks thinking spring.

“I think we’ll get up to where we were last year,” she said.

More than 27,000 people signed up for the 2012 race, down about 28 percent from the previous year. At its peak, about 40,000 people participated in the run/walk, making the Indianapolis race the sixth-largest in the country.

Lower participation means less money available for grants to local health care providers. The local Komen affiliate awarded about $1.3 million to health clinics, hospitals and other charities serving poor and under-insured women this year.

Race for the Cure is Komen’s largest fundraiser, generating about 80 percent of its revenue. Funds also support breast cancer research.

Controversy erupted in early 2012 when the national Komen organization pulled financial support for Planned Parenthood’s mammogram program. The decision, seen as politically motivated, infuriated supporters and was quickly reversed, irritating other supporters.

But the fallout lingered. More than 50 Komen events across the country reported fundraising declines of 20 percent to 30 percent or more in 2012.

Organizers have been working hard to restore the local event to its former glory. Among the new offerings this year: Surprise entertainment at intervals along the 5-kilometer course and food trucks that will roll in to offer post-race refreshments.

Mass Ave merchants are offering their support by turning the cultural district pink for the day. The effort was organized by Crimson Tate quilt shop owner Heather Givans, who struck up a friendship with client (and race chairwoman) Becky Sage.

Volunteers sewed pink pennants that will be hung outside Mass Ave businesses a few days before the race, and employees are being encouraged to wear pink. Special discounts for race participants are intended to encourage them to make their way to Mass Ave after the event.

“We want to recognize people for raising awareness and money,” Givans said. “We’re glad to help.”

Local Komen leaders also have been reaching out to businesses, encouraging them to form or grow race teams. Historically, about 70 percent of racers have been part of such corporate groups, Curish said, but team participation has suffered along with the economy.

Associates at Columbus, Ohio-based logistics firm Exel’s Indianapolis office formed a team for the first time last year, signing up more than 20 members. The 2013 goal was 60—a target it already has surpassed. Members also have raised about $1,700 for Komen so far through special initiatives like bake sales, team captain Schlise Browley said.

Such efforts help raise the race’s profile, Curish said, and ideally drive registrations. A warm, sunny day would be nice, too.

“Hopefully we’ll have some good weather,” she said. Race for the Cure “is important to the cause, but our goal is to create a fun day that people just can’t miss.”

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  • Yea Barbara
    Finally someone is doing some research. There is a lot of naive talk here. Rick, thanks for your feedback. Although you might need to do some more research outside of the Bible. Alas, this is one topic that no one will change anyone else's mind on purely based on comments on an article.
  • Just say no to infantcide
    Abortion hurts those who have no voice and who are unable to protect themselves. It is a vile, selfish act and something only a terminally ill society would call choice. Abortion also hurts women far more than it hurts men. I will contemplate these thoughts as I give what would have gone to this race to a more deserving organization.
  • Not so fast...
    Check out this week's Not-for-Profit of Note column Ben. Seventy percent of local funds are used for grants and research.
    • Weather? Really?
      I will no longer support this organization. They have become a political organization. Only 12% of the funds we donate to them actually gets into the field, the rest goes to admin costs
      • give generously
        to Breast Cancer Action instead. http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org
      • yikes back
        Thanks D C - very well said. Larry- how about looking up the story of Jesus and the money changers (Matthew 21:12) - I'm pretty sure he intended to drive them out of business. OR - take a look at all the kind words he had for the Pharisees and Sadducees. I believe that there are certain times in life where you have to draw a line in the sand. Supporting Komen is one of those times. You see, sanctioning murder via a conduit (i.e. pp donations via Komen) is still sanctioning murder. It only makes people feel better about it because they are not writing the PP checks directly. I'll repeat my 2 points from earlier: 1) I'm glad to see the Komen event drawing fewer participants and 2) It is malarkey to think that the local organization does not share the views of the national organization, otherwise they would disaffiliate
      • Remember...
        Please remember "Sleep For The Cure" this year! You can still register, get your participation t-shirt, and still sleep in on Saturday morning no matter what the weather. On top of that, you help an organization fighting to cure cancer...all cancers.
      • Whoa
        Uh, Larry? I'm not sure I know what Jesus would do about everything, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't kill babies.
      • Any Group But Komen for Me
        I support numerous cancer research and treatment groups and used to support Komen until they politicized their community giving and service - never again!
      • Yikes
        Yikes, Rick, you are one nasty fellow. I've had issues with what happened last year, although perhaps not in the same way as you. The organization overall just does too much good work in this community. I'm not huge on the Boy Scouts policy on gays, but they do amazing work and I alway support them. I hope you won't use that same attitude to claim you are a Christian. What would Jesus do? Can't imagine he'd approve of your thoughts. Cheering for someone else' demise wasn't His way.
      • Bravo
        This is great news. Other agencies will continue to get any donations I make and/or any events I participate in. By siding with the abortionists at Planned Parenthood, Komen has publicly proclaimed that they are anti-life. It is complete bunk to suggest that the local chapter does not support the national agenda. So, Bravo everybody! Bravo!

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