A Message from David Richart, Komen Puget Sound Executive Director

A Message from David Richart, Komen Puget Sound Executive Director

I participated in my first Race for the Cure in 2014 as the new Executive Director of Komen Puget Sound. While standing at the start of The Survivor Parade, I happened to be next to a man with two small kids. His wife was in the parade line among the first-year survivors, and you could see tears streaming down his face as he held on to his kids. Reflecting back to my aunt, who twice experienced cancer, I knew exactly what he was feeling as he watched his wife walk by among the other survivors.  He must have been so proud of her, yet also filled with hope the cancer would never come back, and grief over it happening in the first place. This encounter seared into my heart. It was an experience I will never forget.

This year, we are coming together in a new location, Seward Park on Lake Washington and we have a new name for our annual event, The More Than Pink Walk. The name may have changed, but what hasn’t, since my first Race five years ago, is the reason why we come together. We come together to raise needed funds, of course, but we also do it to show our support for the women, and men, who are living with this terrible disease. And we come together to remember and honor those families who have lost someone to breast cancer.

The More than Pink Walk is centering on the four pillars of our mission: Research, Care, Community and Action. The overarching goal of our organization is to cut in half the number of deaths from breast cancer every year, over 40,000 people in the U.S. alone.  The way we are going to do that is by investing in these four pillars.

Our first pillar is Research. Twenty-five percent of every dollar we raise goes directly to fund breast cancer research, much of it done right here at The University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. We are looking at some very exciting opportunities. One opportunity is the research Dr. Nora Disis is doing into a vaccine to prevent breast cancer. This year, we are proud she received her second $600,000 grant from Komen to support this vital research. Dr. Disis believes strongly we will have a vaccine for breast cancer in her lifetime. In the meantime, she has discovered an experimental vaccine that has become a highly effective tool in the arsenal for fighting breast cancer for those who are currently experiencing the disease.

Care is our next pillar. One of the biggest reasons men and women die of breast cancer is lack of timely and appropriate care due to lack of resources. Seventy-five percent of every dollar raised by Komen Puget Sound goes into providing needed care and resources to local patients who have breast cancer.  This care begins with free mammograms, Komen’s largest funded program, which we have supported since our beginning. We also fund navigators who help patients navigate the very complicated process of finding the care they need. And, importantly, we fund patient assistance for patients who don’t have the money to get to care they need while fighting breast cancer.  No one should ever have to choose between putting food on the table, or heating their home, and paying for lifesaving medications.

Our third pillar is Community. Our goal is to create a place at our More Than Pink Walk where those who are experiencing breast cancer can realize they are not alone. The event will feature Hope Village where survivors and those living with metastatic disease can come together to celebrate and support each other in an atmosphere of genuine camaraderie. They will meet new friends, be pampered, get a nice breakfast, and learn how they might get involved with Komen in ways that work best for them.

Our final pillar is Action, and this is where you come in.  Attending The More Than Pink Walk is your opportunity to take action in our fight against breast cancer. And when you do, you are going to feel the magic of what happens when people from all walks of life are united with a single laser-like focus on making a difference in the fight against breast cancer, and in the lives of those who are experiencing it.

So, come join us on Sunday, June 2, at Seward Park. Be a part of The More Than Pink Walk, make a difference in our fight against breast cancer, and show you care. You will have a delightful walk in a beautiful parklike setting along Lake Washington among some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. And you will have an experience you will never forget.