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Organizers say Columbia Race for the Cure ahead of pace

Monday, July 30, 2012 | 7:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — If registration for the Race for the Cure is any indication, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation is recovering from last winter's public relations debacle over cutting Planned Parenthood funding for breast exams.

In February, the breast cancer charity was hit with backlash after the Komen foundation announced it would cut $680,000 in funding to Planned Parenthood for the exams.

The Komen foundation dropped its plan after people from around the country criticized the idea, according to a previous Missourian article.

"We're not focusing on it anymore," said Lauren Milbach, race chair for the mid-Missouri affiliate of the Komen foundation.

Despite this ominous beginning to the year for the organization, Milbach said the mid-Missouri affiliate is more focused than ever on their mission.

Now the local affiliate is concentrating on its upcoming Race for the Cure, a 5-kilometer walk/run. This will be the race's third year in Columbia, and Milbach said she expects it to be larger than the previous races.

As of Monday evening, there were 705 people signed up for the Sept. 16 event. Organizers say this nearly doubles the number of people signed up at this time last year. 

The organization encouraged people to sign up early this year and started advertising the race two months earlier, Milbach said.

She said the goal is 5,000 participants, which is 1,300 more than participated in the race last year. Because most participants register in the six weeks before the race, the organization still has time to reach its goal.

Milbach said she got involved with the race in honor of her mother, a 10-year survivor of breast cancer. Milbach got involved in the Race for the Cure as a team captain and participant before becoming the 5K's treasurer last year. This is the first year of her two-year stint as race chair.

The mid-Missouri affiliate covers an area of 16 counties. Komen has two other affiliates in Missouri — one in St. Louis and another in Kansas City.

Kathy Adams, executive director of the mid-Missouri affiliate, said the race is the largest fundraiser for this affiliate.

Of the money raised from the race, 75 percent will stay in the 16 counties. It will be disbursed to local organizations that are working to improve breast cancer education, treatment and screening, Adam said. The other 25 percent will go to national research grants. 

This year, 290,170 American women and 2,190 American men will be diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time, according to Komen estimates.

Nonprofit organizations like hospitals, universities and health departments apply for grant money, Adams said. Komen does a needs assessment and decides who receives money and how much.

The mid-Missouri affiliate received a million dollars in grant applications this year, but the affiliate only funded $262,000, Milbach said.

Some details for the race are still being worked out, but race planners say this year's event will include:  

  • Suzy's Garden, a new fundraising event. Participants will be able to buy tulip-shaped signs before or at the race to decorate in honor of a loved one, according to the mid-Missouri affiliate's website.
  • A"pink out" at Missouri's home football game against Arizona State on Sept. 15. A section of the stadium will be designated for race participants who have purchased a special ticket for the game, Milbach said. The football team will wear pink shoelaces, and Missouri's cheerleaders and Golden Girls will have pink pom-poms.
  • A race course beginning on Mick Deaver Memorial Drive, between the Hearnes Center and Memorial Stadium. The new route is not posted, but will be very similar to the 2011 course, according to the mid-Missouri affiliate's website.

  • A special tent for people who have had breast cancer or are undergoing treatment. In addition to hosting a hot breakfast for survivors, the area will include raffle, a photo booth and other treats, Milbach said.
  • A children's area, with arts and crafts and, hopefully, face painting. Milbach said younger participants will have a small race of their own on the track of Memorial Stadium.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.


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