Komen pushes ahead despite national controversy

By Mahealani Richardson
Published On: Sep 10 2012 04:37:00 PM HST

The Race for the Cure is approaching, but organizers for the Hawaii affiliate of Susan G. Komen foundation have faced a few hurdles leading up to this year's race.

HONOLULU -

The Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure is happening in Honolulu in October and KITV is a proud sponsor.

But, organizers for the Hawaii affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation have faced a few hurdles leading up to this year's race.

Hawaii Interim Director Lori Garcia shows off the pink in her office -- bags, hats -- everything pink.  It's for the upcoming Race For the Cure.

Garcia says the local Komen affiliate has worked even harder this year in the wake of a national controversy at Komen's Dallas headquarters.

"We had our work to do to get back the trust of our local donors and supporters that we have here," said Garcia.

In January, Komen sparked protests and online furor when it said it would no longer fund breast exams through Planned Parenthood.

The organizations denied political pressure over Planned Parenthood's abortion services.

Days later, the Dallas headquarters restored funding but the damage was done.  Several Komen affiliates, including Fort Worth and San Francisco, saw donations and Race For The Cure participation drop.

"It does affect us and it's affected races across the country.  But, I believe that we are going to be fine this year," said Garcia.

Garcia says it's too early to tell what the numbers will be this year.  But last year, 7,500 people participated in the Race For The Cure and the event exceeded its goal of raising $350,000.

In March, the Hawaii affiliate awarded 15 grants to clinics throughout the state to help fund breast cancer screenings.

Planned Parenthood Hawaii received a Komen grant in 2006, but Garcia says the organization has not asked for money since.

The Komen Affiliate is in a small office in Kaimuki.  It only has 1.5 employees.  The rest of the help comes completely from volunteers.

"Without our volunteers we couldn't do it.  And the base that we have is really, really dedicated," said Garcia.

It's a dedicated group that's plowing ahead and trying to stay focused on Hawaii upcoming race.

Seventy-five percent of the funds raised from the race stays here in Hawaii.  Twenty-five percent goes toward national breast cancer research.

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