Choosy Charity

Every year, I am reminded of how much I hate the color pink.  About four months before the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, my TV is bombarded with commercials for the event.  Pink clothing of all kinds is on display everywhere I turn.  I cannot even turn on my radio without hearing at least five commercials about the race.  And in case I am able to tune out all of the noise, a large billboard has been placed in St. Louis to remind me.

Do I support breast cancer research?  Of course I do!  Am I happy that the event has hundreds of cancer survivors in its presence?  Most definitely.  My issue lies within how much exposure is given to this one event when there are many events held in St. Louis to help those with other forms of cancer and non-curable diseases.

Perhaps the most staggering fact that I discovered is that Nancy Brinker, the Susan G. Komen group’s founder and CEO, earns $684,000 a year.  In fact, she just received a 64% raise.  This seems incredibly unjust to me.  My mother is a teacher and she does not make a fraction of that salary.  And my mother is teaching children to read, write and other skills that her students will need and use in everyday life.  Still, Ms. Brinker is receiving this large salary to hold one race once a year.  I’m sure that there is extensive planning that goes into the event, however, I have noticed something on the backs of the pink race t-shirts:  sponsor names.  This means that the Susan G. Komen fund is not forced to raise the money needed for the event on its own.  These sponsors are providing food, clothing and other items aside from funding.

It seems that businesses and companies cannot wait to receive exposure from donating to the large event.  However, what about other events held to honor cancer survivors?  For the past two years, I have been a team captain for the Light the Night Walk held by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This walk honors those that have cancer of the blood.  While the event has a rather large crowd, there is hardly any exposure.  There are no TV commercials, no on-air time at a radio station.  There is one billboard.  That is it.  Our small, but mighty group relies on word of mouth and LLS’s website to generate awareness.  Both years, not a single television crew has come out to report on the event. 

In late September, the Purple Stride walk is held at Forest Park.  This walk honors those that have pancreatic cancer.  This event gets the least publicity of all.  Still, we walk every year in hopes that people will take notice and help support the cause.

 In October, the Step out Walk is hosted by the St. Louis Chapter of the American Diabetes Association.  While the teams are numerous, our public importance is not.  If you blink, you will miss the turn off for the small park that the walk is held in.

The people that spearhead each of these events do not make the staggering sum of $684,000 a year.  In fact, most of the staff and sponsors are volunteering their time and talents to make each walk a success.  I would like to believe that our leaders truly care about the cause and the people affected by these diseases.

So, why is the Susan G. Komen event THE event in terms of cancer walks?    Why does it receive so much publicity and funding when other cancer walks receive practically none?  Do we as human beings, only concern ourselves with cancer that alters our outward appearance?  Have we become so shallow that we are only funding cancer cures that will keep women’s breasts intact?  In the meantime, funds are desperately needed for crucial research for pancreatic cancer, leukemia and lymphomas and diabetes.

I refuse to believe that my Grandmother’s Mantel Cell Lymphoma is less important than breast cancer.  Or that Mr. Leonard Borton’s passing due to pancreatic cancer was in vain.  Even still, that my father will have to continue to suffer from the effects of diabetes.

So, when the color pink begins to invade your world, please also keep the colors of green, purple and red in mind.  These groups greatly need your support.  Let us work together to find cures for all cancers and diseases.

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