INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Registrations for the Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Chapter's annual Race for the Cure charity event are down significantly following a public uproar over the national leadership's short-lived decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening.
WTHR-TV reports (http://bit.ly/Hrlv1u ) that registrations for the April 21 5-kilometer run/walk in Indianapolis are down 30 percent and fundraising is down 18 percent over last year.
The likely reason for the decline is Komen's announcement earlier this year on the national level that it had cut funding to Planned Parenthood. Dallas-based Komen reversed course after its decision ignited a three-day firestorm of criticism. Members of Congress and Komen affiliates accused the group's national leadership of bending to pressure from anti-abortion activists.
The controversy damaged the image of the nonprofit group that is the nation's largest breast-cancer charity.
"What's happened with the national organization, we're working on that — they are working internally to try and change things, but we can't let the women in central Indiana down," said Dana Curish, the Central Indiana Komen chapter's executive director.
The Race for the Cure event is the biggest fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Chapter. Last year, more than 37,000 people participated, raising $2.6 million for breast cancer research, screenings and treatment.
Curish said 25 percent of the money goes to global research and 75 percent stays in Indiana for screenings, support and treatment for low-income women. Of that 75 percent, 20 percent covers administrative costs.
"Last year alone, there were 289 women in central Indiana whose breast cancer was diagnosed because of Komen funding," Curish said.
But WTHR reports that Komen officials believe fundraising could drop by one-third, and that could mean some central Indiana women won't get an early breast-cancer diagnosis, ultimately lessening their chance of survival.
The national controversy over the Planned Parenthood funding issue has led even longtime supporters of the event, such as Amy Lyday, to back out.
"I have participated every year for a decade. I will not be participating anymore. I don't agree with funds raised to find a cure for cancer should go to Planned Parenthood," Lyday posted on Facebook.
Local organizations that depend on the funding are worried that politics may hurt the people who need help the most. The Little Red Door receives nearly $400,000 from Komen to help low-income women with everything from mammograms to wigs during chemotherapy.
"Without Komen, none of that would be possible," said Little Red Door's Amy Burhart.
Adrienne Harlow, who was diagnosed at age 19, told WTHR her focus is on helping other women with breast cancer.
"Anybody's opinion is their opinion. They can have it. But it doesn't change my opinion about Komen," she said.
Information from: WTHR-TV, http://www.wthr.com/