Komen Foundation gives grants in excess of $1 million
The Southwest Florida Susan G. Komen for the Cure awarded a record-setting dollar amount of grants to 13 nonprofit organizations in five counties at its annual grants luncheon at Bayfront Bistro on Fort Myers Beach Wednesday.
The local affiliate, which raises much of its funding through its annual Race for the Cure event, gave $1,015,235 from its 2011-12 grant cycle to provide education, screening, diagnosis and treatment in the fight against breast cancer. This is the first time the Komen Foundation has exceeded $1 million, an increase of 23 percent over last year’s grant totals.
The grant recipients were Cancer Alliance of Naples, Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic, LIGHT of Southwest Florida, Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida, NCH Healthcare System, Collier Health Services, Partners for Breast Cancer Care, Senior Friendship Centers, Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center, Manatee County Health Department, Lymphedema Resources Inc., Neighborhood Health Clinic and Lee Memorial Health System, which was presented nearly $200,000 from Snook Bight Marina and Bayfront Bistro resident owner Joe Yerkes.
“It was obvious to me that we had to give something back to the community. What impressed us most (about the Southwest Florida Susan B. Komen Foundation) was the percentage of the money that goes right to the community in Lee and Collier counties,” said Yerkes. Over the past two years, the “All-Aboard Fest,” featuring a fund-raising wine dinner and live auction at Yerkes’ businesses, has resulted in donations of more than $140,000.
The Komen affiliate has dished out more than $4.7 million to local nonprofits since 2002. Seventy-five percent of the money raised stays in the local communities to create life-saving education programs and funding for breast health.
Executive Director Miriam Ross attributes distribution success to advocates, sponsors, event participants and any other donation contributor. She thanked her board members for their help in the reviewing and selection operations.
“It’s a pretty long process, but it’s an important process,” she said.
Roughly 75-100 people attended the luncheon, emceed by NBC2 meteorologist Robert Van Winkle.
“Back in 1982, the survival rate for breast cancer was only about 74 percent. Now, here we are in 2011, and I’m proud to say that the survival rate is close to 98 percent right now,” he said. “Komen was just given a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator (a watch dog agency) for the fifth year in a row.”
Breast cancer survival begins at home. Many of the grant presenters and awardees echoed the sentiment that women — mostly mothers — neglect their own health to care for the children.
Cape Coral’s Susan Murphy was not one of them. She found a lump in her breast, had a physical done and scheduled appointments with a radiologist. In May 2010, she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 44. She said that since she found the lump early, they were able to remove everything.
Since she could not afford the necessary insurance, Murphy was referred to Dara Leichter with Lee Memorial Health System to apply for a grant that helped her cover the cost of having surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
“Within one day I got the grant from Susan G. Komen,” she said. Murphy was named the 2011 Honorary Team New Balance Member for the Race of the Cure.
“The other thing that this affiliate is doing, besides the money it raises, is the education,” said Leichter, breast health navigator for the health system’s Regional Cancer Center. “I’m starting to see women coming to my office now that are in an earlier stage, because they know that there is somebody out there.
— Meghan McCoy contributed to this report