In order to run an organization as large as Komen, it takes full time workers to coordinate everything from the website to the races each year. The local Komen affiliate has a team of extraordinary women collaborating to bring our community together all year long to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research, and to honor those fighting breast cancer today, and those who have lost their battle. The Lafayette and Alexandria “Race for the Cure” may only take up two days of the year, but an extensive amount of work goes into maintaining the relevance of breast cancer research here in Louisiana. The work being done every day by Heather Blanchard, Michelle Voss, and Marla Johnnie make the Komen events across south and central Louisiana possible. They spare no effort to bring people together for an exceptionally worthy cause.
Heather and Michelle were participants in “Race for the Cure” long before they joined the Komen staff. Both have a long history of non-profit management in the Acadiana community. Heather was the first full-time Executive Director at Komen Acadiana and has been for the past two and a half years; Michelle has been a full-time Missions Director for the past year and a half. Marla joined the Komen team as an intern from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and six months ago was hired as a full-time Development Coordinator.
Like many people, these women all know someone that has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Marla has had many family members fight breast cancer over the years and a close cousin fighting today. Heather and Michelle have both lost loved ones to cancer, and as mothers of five young girls, they are dedicated to helping find a cure in the hopes that their daughters will not have to experience that same loss. Since joining Komen Acadiana, they all have become extremely close to many survivors who have become like family to them over the years. Michelle says, “We pray for them, cry with them, and provide smiles and support whenever we can.”
Working with an extensive amount of volunteers every day, they become witnesses to volunteers making a difference: “We see first-hand the impact our donors make in this fight against breast cancer. We truly believe that we will find a cure. We are inspired by the dedication and determination we see in our volunteers and survivors. We could not provide the needed education services to our community or organize two races a year without our volunteers. They are our lifeblood and the backbone of our organization. We are amazed and inspired by our survivors and the families that support them every day.”
“We race for all of the survivors, we race for those who are no longer with us, we race for our children, we race for our community, and we race for a world without breast cancer!”Read More
Every individual involved with Susan G. Komen has a reason to volunteer; no two stories are the same. Some race for their mother, some for their wives, and some race because they simply know someone, somewhere battling cancer. No matter what motivates them to aid the quest for a cure, one thing can be said for all: it touches everyone personally. Angie Roberts, an Occupational Therapist from Woodworth, Louisiana, witnesses the impact of breast cancer first-hand everyday. She specializes in breast cancer rehabilitation and lymphedema treatments for survivors. Angie’s involvement with Susan G. Komen began 8 years ago when she volunteered for the Komen BMW drive and has served as one of the Co-Chairs for the past three Cenla races in Alexandria, Louisiana. Cancer patients and survivors remind us of how precious our lives are, and Angie feels privileged to work with them every day. She realizes that many individuals are unaware of how prevalent breast cancer is in Central Louisiana and believes that though some may not know someone with breast cancer, they will one day and that awareness and knowledge are key to eliminating the disease. Angie races for her patients and a CURE so that her daughter will never have to.
So how does she inspire others to fundraise and race for the cure? Absolutely anything! Every dollar counts toward helping those in communities get the screenings and treatment needed to take back their lives and carry the priceless title of “cancer survivor”. Every dollar counts toward scientific research to find a cure, so that one day we can all finally say we live in a cancer-free world. Help fundraise with your local Komen affiliate today and witness the change it makes in the battle against breast cancer.
When it comes to getting a message across to a wide range of people, nothing works better than the media. Radio communication plays a vital role in sending out information to the masses and with the help of local radio personalities, the advertisement of events for the Susan G. Komen organization are heard by thousands, which can go a long way in gathering volunteers and sponsors. David and Carlette Christmas of ON POINT Talk Radio in Alexandria, Louisiana have been involved with Komen since 2011 by becoming media sponsors and Cooperate Fundraisers.
Like several volunteers, sponsors, and racers, the death of a friend inspired them to become involved with Komen. Many people do not realize how much difference one volunteer can make for a cause that is so broad and affects so many people, but David and Carlette know that doing just about anything to help and inspire others to join in can have a huge effect on success. Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and for ON POINT Talk Radio, that is their reason to race. They strive to be the change they wish to see in the fight against breast cancer and they understand how important the aid from fundraising by Komen is in supporting the research for a cure.Read More
It’s impossible to understand the full emotional weight cancer brings with each diagnosis, unless you’ve experienced it. Many volunteers are not survivors, but can see and feel the impact that organizations like Komen have on those who are now cancer free and those still battling cancer. Nikki Landry was a first time participant at Race for the Cure in 2008 and was inspired by the women who were in the fight of their lives against breast cancer. It wasn’t until 2010 that Nikki completely understood what that fight was all about when she became diagnosed as well. Now a three year survivor, Nikki participates with Komen in any way she can, whenever she can. Most recently, she helped in ways ranging from assisting the Lafayette Komen affiliate paint their new office, to organizing team captain meetings, to brainstorming new ideas to raise awareness and fundraise as a community. Nikki believes, “If [it’s] sharing my story or holding another survivors hand while crossing the finish line, I just want to make a difference while I can. Someday I may not be able to run. Someday I may be in the fight again, so it’s important for me to do as much as I can while I am capable.”
To inspire others to donate to Komen, Nikki admits, “It’s hard. Times are tough. Some people are not touched by breast cancer personally and would rather spend their money on other charities. Each year it gets tougher and tougher. But, if I can fund one mammogram, I can only pray it makes a difference. I ask everyone to give what they can, even if it’s only $10, it can make an impact.”
Why does Nikki race? “I race for hope, I race for my breast friends affected by this dreadful disease, and I race because I still can.”Read More
It’s disheartening to think that most people today are surprised when a stranger demonstrates an act of kindness to another stranger. It’s hard to believe, but not all individuals need to have a personal connection to someone or something in order to do noble deeds for others. This is especially true for Randy James of Pineville, Louisiana. Randy was first introduced to Komen as a member of the supporting media. Though, fortunately, no one in his family has breast cancer, he has come to know acquaintances and friends who are survivors. After learning the steep number of volunteers each year at Susan G. Komen events and the staggering statistics of those battling breast cancer, Randy was inspired to do more.
What he looks forward to each year at the Cenla Race for the Cure is the chance to stand at the finish line and greet the survivors as they cross over. It takes an immense amount of energy to contain himself at the finish line, but Randy declares, “When I arrive home afterwards, I find myself exhausted and weeping, but so very blessed.” He spends every chance he gets to attend meetings and events for Komen and enthusiastically encourages the organization to use him in any way it sees fit. He states, “One of my hobbies is singing, and if singing for a cure is what is asked, then so be it.” All organizations need volunteers, donors, and sponsors like Randy, and Susan G. Komen is lucky to have someone like him supporting the fight against breast cancer. In some cases, it is not a cancer survivor that inspires a person to volunteer. Instead, perhaps it is another volunteer; someone who races for their community and meets strangers who turn into friends. Find what inspires you and help be a contributor and an inspiration to others!Read More
There are several aspects needed within a group of people working toward a common goal. You need determination, enthusiasm, courage, and collaboration, to name a few. When that goal is making a difference in fighting one of the leading causes of death in the United States, hope is essential. Among the thousands of volunteers who believe in the day we will finally find a cure, there is Dallas Hixson. Having been involved with Komen for ten years in Monroe and Presenting Sponsor for four years in Alexandria, he is like every other participant: he sponsors and races to make a difference.
Alongside his wife, Cindy, and their two children, Elizabeth and Dallas Jr., they became inspired to get involved with Komen after Cindy’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Race registration fees get us to the start-line, but the fundraising efforts of our participants help get us to the cures and Dallas believes, “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer. This is a worthy cause. Research and education are making a difference. We will beat this disease!” Join Dallas and his family and become one of the thousands of volunteers making a difference in the fight against breast cancer and fundraise today!Read More