Brian Kuritzky after the Great Floridian Ultra-Distance Triathlon. © 2010 Brian Kuritzky
Brian Kuritzky, a securities analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York City, has raised $300,000 for the Greater NYC Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the CureŽ — the most money raised by a private individual at a non-Affiliate sanctioned event — by competing in the Great Floridian Ultra-Distance Triathlon. He currently is the highest individual fundraiser for the Affiliate and is the third highest fundraiser overall if you include corporations like JPMorgan Chase and Komen NYC Race for the Cure presenting sponsor Duane Reade. And he’s not done yet. He’s set a goal to raise significantly more than $300,000 he has already raised. Donations can be made to his personal web page, www.komennyc.org/ironmanbrian.
Kuritzky’s motivation is the memory of his mother Janice, whom he adored. At 13, he found out she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, at 14, he learned her disease was terminal. She died when he was 15. It was not until he turned 18 that he discovered the truth — his mother had been diagnosed when he was 10.
“My brother, sister and I were shattered by our mother’s battle with breast cancer. We watched her physically and mentally deteriorate in front of our eyes,” he explained. “She was such a strong person, woman, mother and wife. During her illness she taught full-time and was a devoted wife, loving mother, all while fighting this terrible disease tooth and nail.”
His fundraising success began as a challenge. A couple of Kuritzky’s coworkers dared him to finish a triathlon without any training. “I figured I could use the race as a way to raise funds and awareness for Komen Greater NYC,” he explained.
The event was October 23, and Kuritzky did almost no training. He took three practice swims, asking a colleague who is a competitive swimmer for basic tips, and rode just 10 miles on a bike. He rented a road bike from the only shop that would deliver 12 hours before the race. The rental shop “…agreed to let some lunatic, who doesn’t ride often, use their bike for a 112-mile ride.”
The triathlon required Kuritzky to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. The 24-year old, who won all-region honors playing varsity soccer while an undergraduate at Cornell, finished the competition in 15 hours, 30 minutes and 26 seconds. Goldman Sachs and other donor companies matched the $25,000 in pledges and as word circulated about his accomplishment, pledges jumped to $100,000, reaching $190,000 within a week.
“I am just your normal determined guy,” said Kuritzky. “So determined, that I would have drowned before calling for help in the swim, walked my bike if I had a flat and passed out before calling it quits on the run.”
Kuritzky used Komen Greater NYC’s interactive tool, Ignite Personal Fundraising, to power his campaign. The program is open to three categories of events that raise money to fight breast cancer:
Brian and his sister Alyson at Komen Greater NYC's 20th Anniversary Celebration aboard the Intrepid in October of 2010. © 2010 Mark Jason Photography
Ignite participants can donate directly to Komen Greater NYC online. Every Ignite page has a barometer, which allows fundraisers to chart their progress.
“The Ignite page has been instrumental in ensuring the donations process is quick and simple,” said Kuritzky. “It’s very easy to follow, helping me track who has donated and which gifts have been matched. I’ve been able to ensure that every dollar pledged is a dollar donated thanks to the ease of the tool.”
Kuritzky began raising money for breast cancer awareness and research while still a teenager, by doing various walks in northern Westchester County. It was a way to stay connected to his mother and actively try to make a difference.
“My mother was the lynchpin of our family,” explained Kuritzky. She did everything and was everything to us all. No matter how materially wealthy any of us become, we will always be poor. To this day, everything I am I owe to my mother and father. After my mother’s passing, my father held us together. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my father either.
“Life was not easy afterwards. We did not always know where we were sleeping or what we were eating, but we managed. We managed because my father held us together, and my brother, sister, and I banded together…I am extremely grateful for all that I have and have learned to truly appreciate what you have.”
Kuritzky was introduced to Komen Greater NYC by Board member Bill Shelton after he went to work at Goldman Sachs. Since then, he has raised $11,000 while running the 2008 New York City Marathon — he entered 10 days before the race, taking the place of a friend who had dropped out due to injury, foreshadowing his last-minute triathlon two years later. He also hopes to get more involved in Komen Greater NYC’s Young Professionals Committee.
Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, CEO of Komen Greater NYC, said, “Brian is an amazing example of the power and impact that one dedicated individual can have in the world. He turned a bet into a major fundraising initiative, becoming our highest individual fundraiser in the process. The dollars he has raised will be invaluable to us in our efforts to increase breast health awareness and save lives. We are thrilled to have Brian on our team as we work together to achieve our vision of a world without breast cancer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing his mother, but it is clear that her fighting spirit, determination and generosity lives on through Brian.”
“It is our responsibility to help others if we can, and if we can, we must,” exclaimed Kuritzky. “I regret not cherishing the time I had with my mother, but now my goal is to help that one mother, sister, daughter, or friend beat cancer.
“I hope we find the breakthrough that eliminates breast cancer in my lifetime, once and for all. Being involved and helping raise awareness and funds for Komen Greater NYC is the best way to do that.”