Susan G. Komen fought breast cancer with her heart, body and soul. Throughout her diagnosis, treatments, and endless days in the hospital, she spent her time thinking of ways to make life better for other women battling breast cancer instead of worrying about her own situation. Moved by Susan’s compassion for others and commitment to making a difference, Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer.
Though Susan lost her battle with the disease, her legacy lives on through the work of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the organization Nancy started in her honor. Komen for the Cure is the global leader of the breast cancer movement, having invested more than $1 billion since its inception in 1982. Komen’s promise is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.
Across the country, that promise is upheld by a network of 121 local Affiliate offices. At the heart of each Affiliate is a person or group of people who, like Susan, wanted to make a difference.
Southwest Michigan Affiliate story
Prior to becoming a Komen Affiliate, the first Komen Southwest Michigan Race for the Cure® was held in 1996 in Battle Creak Michigan. That first Race for the Cure® generated $10,000. Those funds were used to support our first grant award to a breast cancer screening program in Calhoun County.
In 1998 a grass roots effort lead by founding president, Toni Freed, resulted in the Southwest Michigan Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, with a service area that included Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.
Further growth took place in 2001 when the Affiliate expanded to include eight counties in Southwest Michigan: Allegan, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph and Van Buren.
Since the initial Race for the Cure®, the Affiliate has awarded more than $2,000,000 in local grants to fill gaps in breast health education, breast cancer screening and treatment programs in Southwest Michigan. 2014 will mark the 18th Komen Southwest Michigan Race for the Cure, now held each year in Kalamazoo.