August Volunteer of the Month: Sue Swyt

Sue with her family during the 2014 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure.
Sue with her family during the 2014 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure.

We are very pleased to announce our August Volunteer of the Month is Development Intern, Sue Swyt.  Sue began her journey with Komen Columbus in February of 2014, focusing her time on assisting our Director of Development, Beth Waldren, on the Affiliate’s fundraising efforts.She has dedicated almost 500 hours of service to Komen Columbus by interning three days a week for the past six months.  Sue took ownership of several projects and her assistance with corporate sponsorship of the Race was invaluable.

No project was too small or too intimidating!  Sue jumped in with both feet and enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Komen Columbus and the people we serve.  We are extremely grateful for Sue’s service and commitment to our vision of a world without breast cancer. Congratulations to Sue!

What inspired you to intern at Komen? 

I recently finished my MPA with a capstone in Nonprofit Strategy and Innovation and I wanted to put my skills to work for an organization and a cause that I was passionate about. With 1 in 8 women experiencing breast cancer, and 1 in 1,000 men, who hasn’t had their life touched by breast cancer?  My cousin, my aunt, my friends’ mom, my children’s teachers and our PTO president are all survivors. My neighbor is a chemo nurse.  I didn’t want to pass up the chance to join the fight to end breast cancer. It was a little terrifying: Komen has a 30 -county service area, and the second largest Race in the United States. Plus, there is so much to Development – Race for the Cure, our partnership with Rally for the Cure,  then October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  There’s no break to catch your breath, and you have to juggle, but it was so rewarding.

What’s your favorite part of interning with Komen?

I have two favorite parts: learning development from Beth Waldren, Director of Development at Komen Columbus, and working with all the wonderful people that make up the Komen community.  Beth has been amazing: she made sure I participated in our regional meeting, Komen 360 event in the Spring, the Race, After Party, Rally, etc. Beth breathes development; I was lucky to learn at the feet of a master. Beth allowed me to develop the first After Party for the Cure program this year, giving smaller, local businesses a way to continue the fight to end breast cancer after the Race.The first sponsor to join After Party was Café Brioso, and Jeff Davis’ (the owner) first commented that he wanted to increase his donation. What an amazing business community we have! Beth had me speak to the Greater Columbus Tennis Association about Rally for the Cure, then I got to attend a golf Rally at Foxfire. We have even discussed Rally with the sailing community- no one thinks of Central Ohio for sailing, but we have a number of sailing clubs.

My other favorite part of my internship is the people. Everyone at our office is so nice. Working with the Race community, other volunteers, the Komen staff and board and our sponsors has been an inspiration, every day. Look at the progress we have made:  in 1980, women with breast cancer, detected early, had only a 74% five-year survival rate, this year that rate is 99%.  That would not have been accomplished without all our great donors, Rally hosts, Racers and Race sponsors.  I thought it would be intimidating to meet Race sponsors, but many were already part of the Komen community. My son works at Giant Eagle (Komen Columbus’ official Race Grocer) and we shop and gas up there.  I live in Dublin, so Tim Hortons (a Platinum level Race sponsor) is where I head for donuts, lunch and an iced cap. New sponsors, like Piada, had already been my family’s favorite, so it was easy to approach them.

What do you like to do in your free time?

The usual: hang out with family and friends, listen to music, annoy my children.  I need to get a group workout in at least once a week: spinning, yoga, boot camp or Zumba. I volunteer with Dublin’s Drug and Alcohol Coalition (Dublin ACT Coalition) to combat underage alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug abuse in my community. I love magic, and I attend the local Society of American Magicians (SAM) meetings whenever I can. Unlike my amazing SAM friends, I am not that skilled, but I love the science and psychology of magic. I need to practice a little more.

What is the most memorable moment or event you’ve experienced at Komen Columbus? And why?

The Race for the Cure, of course.  Seeing downtown Columbus in a sea of pink …  So many friends and family were there: My husband ran the Race, my teen volunteered. It was incredible and moving to see it all come together, to be able to celebrate our survivors and Race in memory of  those we have lost. I held it together until after the Race, then I saw Natalie Guagenti, our Director of Volunteers, with tears in her eyes, and I lost it.  It’s very emotional.