Week Nineteen: 20 Faces of Komen Columbus

Since this May 19, 2012 will be the 20th Annual Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, for the 20 weeks leading up to the event we are 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 19: The Two Companies who have Proudly Stood Beside Komen Columbus for all 20 Races

When the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization was started in 1982, the words “breast cancer” were not mentioned often – this despite the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer was at 74 percent. The Komen Columbus affiliate joined the fight to end breast cancer with its inaugural event on September 19, 1993.  Without hesitation and with pure conviction, The Columbus Dispatch & Affiliates, along with Nationwide Insurance, stepped up and partnered with Komen Columbus as sponsors.

“Knowing the Race has raised the level of awareness of the disease and enabled research that has made a difference in the treatment andthe survival rate has brought Nationwide back as a sponsor over the last 20 years,” said Chad Jester, VP of Corporate Citizenship.

Jean Nemeti, Director of Marketing & Branding for The Columbus Dispatch & Affiliates says seeing the Race grow these past 20 years has been inspiring.

“We live in a very charitable and giving town, being a sponsor of the Race for the last 20 years is a role we take to heart and take very seriously. This disease crosses social lines, sex, race… it’s touching to be part of [Komen Columbus] and its mission to find a cure for breast cancer,” said Nemeti.

The Arena District hosted the Race from 2005-2007 and the Race finished at Nationwide Arena. On several occasions, the Nationwide building has gone pink in support of the Race and according to Jester, the building will go pink again to celebrate Komen Columbus’ 20th anniversary.

Jester adds, “Our associates are pleased to know that Nationwide supports an organization like Komen that is doing so much to help the many individuals who have struggled with the battle against breast cancer.”

The Columbus Dispatch & Affiliates have donated more than $1.3 million of in-kind media support since 1993 along with$65,000 in cash contributions. In 2003, The Dispatch family were designated Pink Diamond Sponsors. The company co-sponsored Heather’s Team in 2009 after 10TV anchor Heather Pick lost her battle with breast cancer, and also co-sponsored Heather and Stefanie’s Team in 2010 with the Charles Penzone Grand Salons. The Dispatch family always gathers a team for the Race – this year the company is paying their employee’s Race registration and matching their employee donations. “When we did the pink wigs for Heather’s Team in 2009, and for Heather and Stefanie’s Team in 2010, it was really an amazing experience to see the sea of pink and the tremendous support from the community,” said Nemeti.

Komen Columbus’ growth can be measured in many ways, but the most important measure of success is the number of lives touched and impacted.  As the Race has grown, so has the need for breast health programs in the community. The first Race in 1993 brought 749 people downtown and raised $54,000, funding five programs. The fifth year brought $212,000 and 12 funded programs. This year, Komen Columbus – thanks to the generous support of sponsors like Nationwide Insurance and The Columbus Dispatch and individual fundraisers – funded a record $1.9 million for 34 programs to our 30-county service area.

Katie Carter, executive director for Komen Columbus reflected on the past 20 Races and is not surprised at the outpouring of support and compassion from the community.

“This just proves to me that we live in a community that stands behind our mission and truly believes we WILL find a cure for breast cancer,” said Carter, “Together we have saved lives and we will continue to work together to find a cure, however long it takes.”

When asked for their words of encouragement for survivors, both Jester and Nemeti agree that we all have a valuable lesson to learn from breast cancer survivors.

“Thank you for being such amazing role models for not only women, but also to men and young people, as you give us strength and courage to meet the challenges we face every day,” said Jester.

Thanks to the Dispatch and Nationwide for 20 years of unwavering support and dedication!