Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $800 million in research and provided more than $1.6 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life.

The History of the Central New York Affiliate

In the early fall of 1990, a small group of women gathered in the office of local plastic surgeon to discuss the possibility of creating an organization designed to support the growing numbers of breast cancer survivors in the community.

The first meeting of the Central New York Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® was held on March 26, 1991 with fifteen people in attendance. Plans were made to sponsor an information booth at the NYS Fair in August 1991 and a luncheon in October 1991. The group struggled with few members and no money. However, the commitment and desire to succeed never diminished.

In the beginning, education and support were the major focuses of the Affiliate. Starting in early summer 1991, Breast Health Awareness programs were presented in many and varied settings. Programs were held at universities, colleges, businesses, health fairs, community centers, and government agencies from Syracuse to Rochester, Buffalo, Oswego, Utica, Binghamton and surrounding areas. It was evident that there was a definite need for increasing awareness and supplying information.

The dream of “having a Race” became reality on May 20, 1995. Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital was the first major sponsor. It was an emotionally exhilarating and exciting time for all the people that had worked so hard for four years to accomplish that goal. The 1995 Race Cure allowed the Chapter to present the first grant. The award was given to University Hospital to purchase a refrigerator to be used in the breast cancer research program.

The Komen CNY Affiliate is the outgrowth of a true grassroots ideal. An Executive Director, Education Director, and Administrative Assistant staff the Affiliate.  A powerful network of approximately four hundred volunteers continues to lead the fight against breast cancer in Central New York.

The goals of the Komen CNY Affiliate are to raise funds to award annual grants to not-for-profit breast health care organizations and programs that are able to screen and treat uninsured and under-insured women, to educate the public on the importance of early detection and healthy lifestyle, and to contribute to groundbreaking breast cancer research. Since its inception, the Komen CNY Affiliate has provided over $3.9 million in grant funding for community breast health care programs. The Komen CNY Affiliate’s service area includes the following counties, representing almost one-third of New York State: Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Seneca, Wayne, Yates.

The Komen CNY Affiliate holds several fundraising events planned and executed by staff, board members and dedicated volunteers.  The Affiliate believes in the power of the individual—recognizing the extreme value of one and the dynamic force of many.  The Affiliate grantees are considered ambassadors of the Komen Mission.  Events also serve as a venue to distribute Komen breast health education materials to all attendees about the importance of early detection and to empower women to advocate for themselves regarding breast health care.

More than 8200 people participated in the 2009 Susan G. Komen Central New York Race for the Cure®, raising more than $750,000. Seventy-five percent of all monies raised through Komen CNY Affiliate activities remain in Central New York while the remaining 25% is dedicated to the national Komen Award and Research Grant Program which is used solely for non-duplicative breast cancer research. In 2009, the Komen CNY Affiliate awarded $400,000 in community grants in the 17 counties they serve. This year, grantee organizations offer services such as free or low-cost mammograms and diagnostic screenings, education programs for the early detection of breast cancer, resources for those who are diagnosed with breast cancer and support to breast cancer survivors.

Still based on the efforts of advocates and activists, the Komen CNY Affiliate continues to believe in help for today and hope for tomorrow.