Susan G. Komen®
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®, the organization Nancy started in her honor. Komen 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 over 120 local Affiliate offices. At the heart of each Affiliate is a person or group of people who, like Susan, wanted to make a difference.
Komen Mid-Michigan (formerly Greater Lansing) was established in January, 2001, to spread the life-saving message of early detection and to financially support breast cancer screening, education, treatment and support programs in Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. In 2009, the Affiliate expanded its service area to include Jackson, Livingston, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw counties, and was re-named Susan G. Komen Mid-Michigan®.
Prior to becoming a Komen Affiliate, the first Komen Southwest Michigan Race for the Cure® was held in 1996 in Battle Creek 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.
In 1997, a breast cancer survivor named Lori Fedewa met with a few friends to tell them about an event called the Race for the Cure®. It seemed like an overwhelming task to bring the Race to the Grand Rapids community, but she pursued the dream and slowly the idea caught on. Our first Race was held downtown Grand Rapids, at the Ford Museum, in September of 1998.
In 1999, the Grand Rapids Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was incorporated and a Board of Directors was established to oversee the activities of the Affiliate. In addition to the Race for the Cure®, we hold fundraising events throughout the year such as Powerfully Pink, our Grantee Recognition Reception (November) and Wings of Hope, our annual Survivor Gala (February). Individuals and companies in West Michigan also support us through their own fundraising events and donations throughout the year. In our 15 year existence, with the help of the generous West Michigan Community, we have raised over $4.5 million dollars for the cause of breast cancer.
The Komen Grand Rapids Affiliate opened our first office in January of 2003. The Affiliate had been run strictly by volunteers up to this point and so a part-time office assistant was hired. Today, our Affiliate staff of 4 full time and 2 part time workers are available to answer phones and provide information on breast health and the resources that are available in our community.
In 2011, the Affiliate name changed from Grand Rapids to West Michigan to better show the service-area that we encompass.