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Komen still raising for the cure

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Despite the loss of some corporate sponsors in 2008, the Aspen affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is brimming with individual contributions, organizers say.

Now in its 18th year, the local nonprofit raised $1.25 million in 2007 as part of a nationwide effort totaling more than $1 billion, the largest fundraiser for cancer research worldwide, according to Claudia Curry Hill, the Aspen affiliate’s executive director.

Overall contributions grew by $200,000 from $1,053,145 in 2006.

But recently, the organization has lost a few corporate sponsors, including a local real estate agent ” Joshua and Co. ” as well as a grant from Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

“I think people are tightening their belts because of the economic climate,” Hill said.

But despite national affiliation, local money stays local, with 75 percent going to preventative programs from Aspen to Rifle, Hill said.

The organization granted some $600,000 for area prevention and education efforts.

“We’ve paid for every digital mammography machine in the area,” Hill said.

The remaining 25 percent of local revenues supports national research, but not the national organization, which runs on corporate largesse, Hill said.

The local chapter raises money almost entirely through its two annual events: the Race for the Cure in July and the Ride for the Cure in September.

Cyclists in the September Ride for the Cure must raise $500 before entering the race and some drum up big support, Hill said.

“We have people who raise $20,000. And we’re talking everyday people ” bartenders and pilates instructors,” Hill said. “It’s such a grassroots effort.”

And individual riders often ask their companies for matching funds.

The upcoming race attracts 1,600 runners who pay a $35 registration fee.

“Mostly we do it with volunteers,” Hill said, adding that some 200 volunteers help put on the race and more than 300 people for the ride.

And separate grassroots money-raising efforts raise additional funds, such as the “Pink Shirt Mondays” effort by local bartenders to raise more than $3,000.

Operating out of donated office space in the Aspen Club, Hill works alongside one full-time affiliate coordinator and a part-time development director to put on the annual events and area education programs.

She apparently runs a tight ship.

“I didn’t take a raise,” Hill said of her annual salary of $49,000.

One in eight American women will be affected by the disease, which is part of the reason for the strong grassroots support.

“Pretty much everybody knows someone with breast cancer,” Hill said.

Every year, 211,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die.

“Those are not good numbers,” Hill said.

But things are improving.

In 1981, women diagnosed with breast cancer had a 75 percent chance of survival; today it is closer to 98 percent.

“Women are getting screened and they’re aware,” Hill said.

The Aspen affiliate also will take part in an upcoming rodeo event and cancer survivor’s celebration at the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo.

The Aspen affiliate was founded in 1991 by Sandy Goldman Israel, along with Ann Hoover and Boots Barnett.

Some funds from the national office go to each of the 116 nationwide affiliates, money that is used for education, Hill said. And the national organization often supplies T-shirts, advertising and training programs.

For more information about Susan G. Komen for the Cure or to register for the July 19 5-kilometer foot race, visit the Web at http://www.komenaspen.org.

cagar@aspentimes.com


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