Perfect day for Y-ME, but organizers fear impact of Komen controversy
BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter May 14, 2012 2:07AM
Y-Me, National Breast Cancer Organization, 21St Annual Race At Your Pace. Participants walk under the B.P. bridge at Columbus drive to complete the 1 and 3-mile walk. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: June 15, 2012 10:53AM
A perfect sunny day boosted turnout for the Y-ME race and walk in Grant Park Sunday but race organizers feared bad publicity from another breast cancer charity may have hurt fund-raising.
Attendance of more than 30,000 “was more than last year,” said Y-ME CEO Cindy Geoghegan, “But what [we] were not as sure of is that we met our goal of money and we think some of that could be attributed to all of the controversies in breast cancer community.”
She said Y-ME, founded in Chicago in 1978, is an older and completely separate group from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which ran into trouble from many of its supporters when it cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
Unlike the Komen Foundation, Y-ME funds no research. Its mission is to organize breast cancer survivors to help other breast cancer survivors.
Y-ME operates a 24-hour hotline staffed by volunteers who themselves are breast cancer survivors. It takes 40,000 calls a year from women with breast cancer or their loved ones. Calls are routed over the internet to the homes of hundreds of volunteers.
Last year’s race pulled in nearly $3 million, more than half of Y-ME’s budget. This year the goal was $3.5 million. The money is not counted yet, but “I will tell you I am not optimistic that were going to hit that goal this year,” Geoghegan said.
In the wake of the controversy some Komen Foundation officials resigned and the organization restored funding to Planned Parenthood, but the fallout still affected Y-ME.
“We received hate mail and emails directed at the other organization,” Geoghegan said. “Unfortunately the community and the public don’t always recognize the difference between one pink ribbon and the other.”
She said her group is still taking donations at www.y-me.org.
For Jennifer McNabola of Park Ridge, the race brought back memories of her mother, who died of breast cancer. “I did the very first walk with my mom in 1991,” she said.
Her husband, John, wearing a pink Cubs hat and her two daughters, Gillian, 12 and Jennifer, 8, also participated. John’s mother is a breast cancer survivor.
“I’m here to support my grandmother,” said Gillian.