Local News

Komen pumps money into Triangle for research, support grants

Posted April 5, 2012 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated April 5, 2012 7:15 p.m. EDT

— Breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure returns more money to the Triangle through research grants and money to support local organizations than the local affiliate raises in its annual Race for the Cure.

A review of the national group's 2010 tax return shows that Komen took in $358 million and spent $342 million. Eighty-two percent of the expenditures went back to communities nationwide in the form of education and research grants, earning the group top honors from watchdog groups like Charity Navigator.

Locally, Triangle Race for the Cure raised $1.8 million last year and handed out $1.1 million in grants to county health departments and organizations like Rex Hospital Foundation, Lincoln Community Health Center and El Pueblo and $52,000 in smaller grants that aren't reportable under IRS rules.

"I don't know what we would do without Komen," Awanya Casear, clinical nurse program manager at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham.

The center, which serves uninsured and low-income residents, received $73,000 from Komen for 815 of the mammograms it provided last year, educational workshops and a monthly support group.

Two months ago, Komen came under fire when it briefly stopped awarding grants to Planned Parenthood. Members of Congress and Komen affiliates accused the group's national leadership of bending to pressure from anti-abortion activists.

The charity has been trying to rebuild its image since then, but local officials said registrations continue to lag for the Triangle Race for the Cure, scheduled for June 9 at Meredith College in Raleigh. Last year, about 25,000 runners participated.

Controversy aside, Casear said she stands behind Komen, noting the group asks grant recipients to account for every dime but also steps up to fund needs as they grow.

"What was really touching for me as a health care provider is when, for the first time I did a budget and looked at the previous budget and looking at our statistics, I said we need more," she said. "They called and said, 'Ms. Casear, we received your budget,' and they said, 'We're going to approve it.' So, that meant a lot to me. It just showed me the compassion and dedication they have to make sure the women are screened."

In addition to the local grants, the national Komen foundation sent another $1.3 million back to Triangle for breast cancer research at Duke University the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kathy Burns, interim executive director of the Triangle Komen Foundation, said the area gets a solid return on its investment in breast cancer prevention.

"Five thousand women came through our organization to get mammograms (last year)," Burns said. "If we weren't here, I don't know where they would go."