KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There was a sea of pink at Union Station on Sunday morning, as supporters raced for a cure for breast cancer. For 20 years the Susan G. Komen ‘Race for the Cure’ has been a place for those touched by breast cancer to come together and hope.
Lori Sitek started giving 13 years ago when her mom was diagnosed. Now, after a double mastectomy earlier this year, she is riding in the pace car as a survivor.
“There were items I needed through my recovery that I did not know about unless I was connected through Susan G.” Sitek said.
According to Komen Kansas City, in the last 20 years, they have granted nearly $10 million to 17 local non-profits and nationally they have funded research for key breakthroughs in breast cancer.
But the organization has come under recent scrutiny for paying its CEO and founder Nancy Brinker a salary of more than $600,000. Money that people who raced and fund raised thought they were giving to fight cancer.
The founder of Komen Kansas City responded to the latest criticism.
“From day one back 20 years ago when I got involved with Komen foundation it’s was a fantastic organization, still is today. Every organization has a little growing pains, but they are phenomenal in every way to work with.” Paula Porsch, founder of Komen’s race in Kansas City, said.
Recently Brinker took a new position as a global strategist in the organization. Brinker and her successor, Judy Salerno, will reportedly both take smaller salaries, although those figures are yet to be released.
“We are so excited for her to come in with her leadership. She is a medical doctor she has lead a major Washington organization. She gets it and is ready to move us forward to the next level. KC wants to be here for 20 more years and give $20 million more and make that much more of an impact,” Carli Good, Susan G. Komen Executive Director, said.
Pink clad, tutu-wearing women who are still willing to lock arms with the huge charity in the battle to end breast cancer. Partly because they’ve seen the good Komen grants have done for cancer patients here.
“I see what they are contributing to my community. I know organizations have issues within them but that doesn’t diminish how I feel about what is happening in KC,” Sitek said.
This year, Susan G. Komen canceled seven fundraising races around the country because numbers were so low.