Sweating … for a cause

Charles Agar
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

By the very sweat of their brows, supporters of the Aspen affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure earn more than $1 million annually for breast cancer education and prevention.Saturday, July 21, is the 17th annual Aspen Race for the Cure, and with the bulk of revenues coming from the nonprofit organization’s annual run, as well as the Aspen/Snowmass Ride for the Cure event.Though tied to with the nationwide network in Dallas, organizers say 75 percent of money raised locally goes to support education and treatment of breast cancer at agencies from Aspen to Rifle.”We run a tight ship,” said Claudia Curry Hill, the Aspen affiliate’s executive director.The Aspen affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is part of a nationwide network that raises more than $1 billion for the cause of breast cancer. The Aspen affiliate was founded in 1991 by Sandy Goldman Israel, along with Ann Hoover and Boots Barnett, and has raised nearly $3 million in its 17 years in business.

Hill was in Dallas in 1982 for the first years of the foundation. Said she has watched the organization grow from a $30,000 fundraiser to a billion-dollar organization. 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.”We are all under the umbrella of the national organization,” Hill said.Hill and one full-time staff member – as well as countless volunteers – operate out of donated office space at the Aspen Club.”Our funds come from all of our fundraising events, our sponsors, our donors and our participants who raise money,” Hill said. “We fund mammograms and breast biopsies. And we fund treatment, both preventive and necessary for breast cancer.”The Aspen affiliate helped buy digital mammography equipment for both Aspen Valley Hospital and Valley View Hospital, Hill said. The Aspen/Snowmass Ride for the Cure has grown each year since 2004, and now has the support of cycling coach Chris Carmichael as the national ride chairman. With each rider asked to raise $500 to enter and the average rider raising $900, the annual ride raised more than $700,000 in 2006, Hill said.”The ride was instrumental in helping us raise more money,” Hill said.And the annual Komen Race for the Cure raised $145,000 in 2006.Runners pay a $30 entrance fee for the 5K race starting at Aspen’s Rio Grande Park, with a kids run and a short Dog Walk for the Cure to follow.

“Are you tough enough to wear pink?” Hill asked. That’s the challenge Thursday for the likes of bull riders and rodeo hands who will wear pink for celebration for breast cancer celebration. The barbecue and rodeo event will take place at the Gus Darien Riding Arena on Catherine Store Road in Carbondale. Ten percent of proceeds from the gate will go to the Aspen affiliate, thanks to Carbondale Wild West Rodeo.The nonprofit also benefits from contributions from individual donors, some as many as $100,000, Hill said.But though the Aspen affiliate is growing, it can’t keep up with more than $1 million in annual area grant requests, Hill said.”It’s amazing how wonderful the community is and how they get involved,” Hill said, adding that local businesses step up with the annual Shop for the Cure event, and so many donors get involved. “They give to us, and we give back.”For more information about Susan G. Komen for the Cure or to register for Saturday’s race, visit http://www.komenaspen.orgCharles Agar’s e-mail address is


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