20 Faces of Komen Columbus: Week 6

Since this May 19, 2012 will be the 20th Annual Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, for the next 20 weeks we’re going to spotlight 20 individuals who have participated in the Race throughout the years. They come from all walks of life and may be survivors, volunteers, grantees, sponsors or advocates, but they’re all committed to the fight against breast cancer.

Week 6: The One Who Brings Together Generations

Connie at the 2009 Race for the Cure.

When Connie Browning gets ready for the Race this year, she’ll wear her pink Survivor’s t-shirt proudly as she takes part not only as a survivor, but as a team captain, volunteer and Komen Columbus Board President. Connie’s first Race t-shirt is from 1995 when she participated as a supporter and as someone who had recently received news of a negative biopsy – a welcome result, but a scary situation to face, nonetheless.

“I was scared going through the process and then surprised at how relatively easy it was to get screened,” Connie said. “Early detection through self-awareness and regular screenings saves lives and in Central Ohio, we are fortunate to have several top-notch facilities within our community to help do just that.”

Helping to impact her community was something that drew Connie to volunteer for Komen Columbus in 2007, that and her own breast cancer diagnosis that came in July.

“I found Komen and learned how 75% of the funds raised stay within our community and was really inspired by all the people I met,” Connie said. “Being such a believer of early detection, I was surprised at how many people I knew that weren’t getting screened regularly. Now my friends check in with me after their yearly screenings.”

Connie with members of her 2010 team.

As the leader of the Komen Columbus Board of Directors, Connie works hard to spread the mission of early detection and help bridge the gap and provide life-saving services to men and women who may be under or un-insured in our community.

To get her friends and colleagues involved in this fight, Connie has captained a Race for the Cure Team since 2003. As the former President of AT&T Ohio, Connie brings a large contingent of AT&T associates to the cause, and also family members from all generations – her 80-year old father, for example, alongside her 2-year old granddaughter.

“Our first team might have had 12 people, but last year we brought 106 people to downtown,” Connie said. “Getting people involved in the Race is a great way to provide them with an outlet to get involved. So many people are affected by this disease – whether directly or indirectly – and often looking for some way to give back.”

Connie looks forward to forming a team each year to build a small support system around her and other survivors in the midst of the 50,000 people who will run and walk alongside them.

Connie helping to kick off the 2011 Race for the Cure.

“It’s such a huge event – the power you feel with seeing the ‘sea of pink’ is like walking to Ohio Stadium and seeing the ‘sea of scarlet’ before a game – the support you feel from everyone is great, but surrounding yourself with a team of people you know and love is really helpful,” Connie said. “My granddaughters look forward to it every year and ask when we’re going to do ‘Mimi’s Pink Parade.’ It’s been part of their life every year now.”

Having seen other large events in Columbus and other communities, Connie remains impressed with how the city comes together every May.

“We’re fortunate to have the support of all three major health facilities, The James, OhioHealth and Mt. Carmel. The James provided great support in 2011 with sponsoring the Jumbotrons at the Race, OhioHealth is screening thousands of women every year through the mobile mammography unit Komen funded along with LimitedBrands, and Mt. Carmel coordinates a great exercise and educational program for survivors every year. To know we’re all working together on the same goal is inspiring.”

Join Connie and her team of family, friends and colleagues at the Race this May 19th. She’ll be waving happily from the sea of pink.