Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a national organization that supports breast cancer research with a goal of stamping out breast cancer altogether.
The North Jersey affiliate supports community-based breast health education, screening, and treatment programs focusing on underserved and uninsured women in nine counties.
On April 26, the group will hold its second Race for the Cure in Newark’s Branch Brook Park. New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek and Essex County executive Joe DiVincenzo are this year’s honorary chairs. We spoke with Deb Belfatto, executive director and cofounder of Komen North Jersey, about the group’s goals for the event. (To register or donate, visit komennorthjersey.org.)
Tell us about last year’s events and your plans for this year.
Last year’s race was an unprecedented success. They told us we would never bring 10,000 people to Newark, yet 10,000 people were there. We raised over $2 million and had a great day. People loved their experience. People who said, “You want me to come to Newark?” actually came and loved it…. This year’s race is April 26. You can walk, run, or stroll. The idea is to get to the finish line; the finish line is defined as the world without breast cancer.
What is your personal experience with breast cancer?
I am a 21-year survivor this April. I was diagnosed at the age of 33 and had a 2½-year-old daughter. I was scared to death. I really had no idea whether I would be dead or alive, but here I am, 21 years later. I have been given the privilege of being part of this organization since 1997, helping to save the lives of women who otherwise would never have access to quality breast health care. It is pretty great.
Where does the money raised go?
The beauty of the Komen organization is that 75 percent of every dollar that is raised [at Race for the Cure] stays in our local communities and our nine-county service area. This money is dispersed through our grants program to community-based organizations. In the past eleven years, we have put over $10 million back into the community. The balance of that, the other 25 percent, goes back to our national organization and funds pure research. Our affiliate has put more than $4.5 million back into research.
What is one example of the type of program Komen supports?
One that stands out is UMDNJ right here in Newark. They have been a proud partner, with a beautiful mobile mammography van that is hitting the streets of Newark. It goes to the people who can’t get to the hospitals or doctor’s office to get examined. We don’t accept no for an answer.
How important is it that men get involved in this effort?
My husband has been involved since the day I was diagnosed. Men have to be involved because they care about the women in their lives—their moms, sisters, daughters, and wives matter. [And] men can and do get breast cancer.
Steve Adubato, PhD. is an Emmy Award-winning anchor for Thirteen/WNET and a media analyst and columnist for MSNBC.com, who also appears regularly on CBS 2. He is the author of the book Make the Connection, as well as his newest book What Were They Thinking?, which examines highly publicized and often controversial public relations and media mishaps. For more information, log on to stand-deliver.com.Click here to leave a comment