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Men, women and children turned out by the tens of thousands on Sunday, September 18th for the 21st annual Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure in Central Park. It was a great day, one that wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Komen Greater NYC Board, staff and nearly 1,000 dedicated volunteers.
“Each year, the Race gets better,” said Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, Komen Greater NYC CEO. “I never cease to be inspired and moved by Komen Greater NYC’s many wonderful supporters. Fundraising finished on October 31st, and we are grateful to everyone who donated to help achieve our vision of a world without breast cancer. Monies raised will provide breast health services to our many neighbors who do not have access to health care —their numbers have increased in these difficult economic times.”
Race Day started off with cool temperatures but the weather was perfect for a run/walk in Central Park. “We were thrilled that Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Komen for the Cure founder and CEO, was with us again this year, “said Richardson-Heron. Other celebrities on hand included Komen Circle of Promise ambassador and actress Gabrielle Union, Miss USA Alyssa Campanella, and acting and survivor/co-survivor couple Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker. The day’s events were emceed by CBS 2 anchor Maurice DuBois, weatherman John Elliott and the Women of CBS 2 (Mary Calvi, Elise Finch, Kristine Johnson, Katie McGee, and Dana Tyler).
This year’s terrific Race features included the Survivor Race T-Shirt Fashion Show with seven contestants showing off their designs, Survivor Parade from Survivor Village to Bethesda Terrace, the Survivor photo and a flash mob that showed up and danced to Katy Perry’s Firework at the Bandshell after the Race.
Teams are the heart and soul of the Race and run the gamut from huge corporate, hospital and school teams to small family and personal teams. This year set an overwhelming Race record with 1,072 teams in Central Park on Race Day – an increase of 130 teams over 2010.
This year’s Education Expo had representatives from 28 Komen Greater NYC grantees, some of which were on “Grantee Row.” The Race had 51 local and national sponsors — a great show of support — with 33 onsite at the Sponsor Expo on Race Day. Doctors for the Cure® was back for the second year.
The Survivor of the Year was Lisa Vernale Fusco, a 29-year-old breast cancer survivor and activist. Her father, Michael Vernale, was honored as Co-Survivor of the Year for his support of Lisa and her mother (a two-time breast cancer survivor). He is also a cancer survivor. This is the first time a father and daughter received both awards
Nothing could keep nearly 21,000 enthusiastic women, men and children — including more than 1,500 breast cancer survivors — from Central Park on September 12th for the 20th annual Komen New York City Race for the Cure.
Cloudy skies and the threat of rain were no match for committed Race participants, determined to run breast cancer out of town. Led by Race Grand Marshal and Komen for the Cure founder, Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, physician and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, actors Gabrielle Union, Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, and Judge Judy Sheindlin, the crowd — including 924 teams — wended its way along the Race route through the park, many honoring their loved ones by wearing "in celebration of" or "in memory of" placards.
This year was very special,” said Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, Komen Greater NYC CEO. “It was not only the 20th walking/running of the Race, but we’re also in the midst of celebrating the 20th anniversary of our affiliate. We were honored and pleased to have Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Komen for the Cure’s founder, on hand as Race Marshal to help us commemorate both of these milestones.
“It was my third Race, and I never cease to be inspired and moved by our many wonderful supporters. The whole experience was fantastic.”
This year’s Education Expo had the most Race grantees ever — 26 — plus a mobile ScanVan mammography unit courtesy of grantee, Project Renewal. Actress and Komen Ambassador, Gabrielle Union, talked with participants about the Circle of Promise program, which promotes breast cancer awareness among African-Americans.
The Race had more than 50 sponsors — a fantastic show of support — and over 40 were represented at the Sponsor Expo. This year, Komen Greater NYC also initiated Doctors for the Cure, a new program that helped underwrite Race registrations for breast cancer survivors.
Participants were able to share their favorite Race memory or wish Komen Greater NYC a happy 20th anniversary by make a 60-second video at two booths.
The Race also had several new features for survivors, including:
Celebrities from film, music and television joined over 24,000 participants — including more than 1,500 breast cancer survivors — at the 2009 Susan G. Komen New York City Race for the Cure® on Sunday, September 13 in Central Park.
Those in attendance included actress Uma Thurman; actress, Komen Ambassador and Circle of Promise spokesperson Gabrielle Union; Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report; longtime Komen Greater NYC supporter television star Judge Judy Sheindlin; and Grammy Award-winning singer Cyndi Lauper. Thurman, Colbert and his family, and Sheindlin fired off the three Race start guns. Lauper sang The Star Spangled Banner while Union spoke in Survivor Village before the Race and greeted fans in the Education Expo afterward.
“New York State’s cuts to the Cancer Screening Program have created a real crisis for our organization and the people we serve,” said Dara P. Richardson-Heron, M.D., CEO for the Komen Greater New York City Affiliate. “If reduced funding delays diagnoses, it could lead to increased cancer-related health care costs and premature, unnecessary deaths.
“That’s why this year’s Race is more important than ever. We have committed a portion of the monies we raise this year for grants to underwrite mammography screening something the State used to fund. Regular mammography and early breast cancer detection finds tumors when they are small and most responsive to treatment. Early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer.”
Race participants walked or ran the 5K (3.1 mile) course through Central Park. The Race also included a special shortened course for the disabled, elderly, cancer survivors undergoing treatment and others who cannot finish the complete route.
Race for the Cure outreach has been multilingual with “save the date” flyers and some breast self-exam information translated into Bengali, Hindi, French, Creole, Korean, Chinese and Spanish. Materials have been disseminated by Komen Greater NYC grantees in an effort to make the Race even more representative of metropolitan New York’s diversity.
The Education Expo, located west of the Bandshell, was expanded to include representatives from 27 breast health organizations funded by Komen Greater NYC, who handed out materials and talked with Race participants about breast health. Actress and Komen Ambassador Gabrielle Union was in the Education Expo to meet fans and talk about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Circle of Promise, an initiative aimed at engaging African-American women in the fight against breast cancer.
More than 25,000 people — 25,420, including 1,661 survivors — lined up on Central Park West before 9:20 am on Sunday, September 14 for the 2008 Komen NYC Race for the Cure®. Men, women and children filled Central Park with attendance up nearly 15 percent from 2007.
Ask anyone who was there, the Race was astonishing — an incredible achievement — which wouldn’t have been possible without the work of the Race co-chairs, Komen staff and volunteers.
"What an absolutely extraordinary event!” said first-time Race participant and new Komen Greater NYC CEO Dara P. Richardson-Heron, MD. “The excitement and sense of community spirit was truly amazing — from the incredible rainbow of over 25,000 participants, survivors, celebrities and Komen staff proudly wearing their Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure t-shirts to the fabulous volunteers cheering everyone on. It all made me feel truly blessed to lead this wonderful organization and be a part of this special day."
“Breast cancer knows no boundaries — not age, gender, socio-economic status, geographic location or economic climate,” continued Dr. Richardson-Heron. “The current economic crisis makes it even more imperative that people donate — even if only five or ten dollars.”
“Reaching our goal,” she explained, “will allow Komen Greater NYC to fund breast cancer education, screening, and treatment programs for those who need it most — the un- and under-insured and immigrant women of New York City, Westchester and Rockland Counties and Long Island.” This year, there was a record number of teams — 812.
The 2008 Race Educational Expo was extremely successful. More than 21 Komen Greater NYC community-based grantees were on hand. There was also a mobile mammography van on site with educational handouts and health educators who answered questions.
Iris Dankner, Race Chair, has participated in eleven Races. “What struck me this year,” she said, “was how many more survivors attended. The turnout was great. More than 25,000 people came to Central Park for the same purpose — to help fight breast cancer. They were there because they had a connecting experience with the disease.”
Dankner, a breast cancer survivor, reflected on the day’s power, “I think about how lucky I am and what I’ve been through,” she explained. “Race Day allows survivors to remember and feel their emotions so that Monday morning they can move forward again.”
In 2007, participants included 667 Race teams as well as families, co-workers, friends and individuals all determined to fight the disease and achieve the vision of a world without breast cancer.
The Komen New York City Race for the Cure is the premiere fundraising event for the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The first Race was held in Central Park in 1991 with a few thousand women participating. The Race has grown steadily and dramatically since.
One of the largest races in New York City, Race participants come from all over the world; the majority are from New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland Counties, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The Komen Race for the Cure series is the largest 5K run/walk in the world. Since its origination in 1983, the series has grown from a single local race with 800 participants to an international series of 120 races with more than 1.3 million participants.