PHOENIX -- Thousands of people will pack the streets of downtown Phoenix Sunday for the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. While you might not be able to tell by looking at it, there will be far fewer participants that in the past.
According to event organizers, there were about 25,000 racers. Looking at registrations for this year’s event, that number is down by a significant 25 percent.
Like many other charities facing similar declines, organizers are blaming the economy.
“People just don’t have the money to do these types of things even though it really is a great cause,” said Jill Bray, vice president of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Phoenix affiliate.
She said the sluggish economy is having an effect nationwide. The drop in race participation is a trend throughout the country. Still, it’s Arizona women who will feel the effect.
While some of the money raced by racers funds international research, a full 75 percent stays right here in the Valley. Less money means fewer services for women in Phoenix and surrounding cities.
Those services include mammogram programs, education and treatment grants, including testing done at Planned Parenthood.
Earlier this year Komen pulled funding from Planned Parenthood, sparking quite a controversy. The organization quickly reversed itself, but six months after the decision, the CEO and founder of the organization, Nancy Brinker, stepped down as CEO to focus on fundraising and strategic planning. Several other executives at national and local levels left the Komen organization, as well.
Komen's decision to pull the Planned Parenthood funding and its subsequent reversal made national headlines for quite some time, but Bray said she doesn’t think the angry debate has anything to do with this year’s race turnout.
“We had some people asking questions here in Phoenix, but honestly it didn’t seem to hit the Phoenix community too hard,” she said.
Race for the Cure usually brings in $2 million for the Phoenix Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate.
The race is Sunday, but you can make a Race for the Cure contribution through the end of October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.