So unless your address contains the words "under a rock somewhere," you probably know about the whole Susan G Komen....disaster, fiasco, implosion, cluster--whatever you want to call it...that transpired last week. There was defunding, refunding, stories of lawsuits simply for using combinations of words that have been part of the English language LONG before the inception of SGK, information about the political leanings (and intolerant, hateful views) of some of the executives (not to mention the salaries of said execs). Somehow the fight to cure breast cancer became about a woman's right to choose. And millions of heads all over this country exploded in unison over Susan G Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood. And then, 48 hours later, millions of other heads all over the country exploded in unison as SGK decided to "re-fund" Planned Parenthood. It was a bad week all around for exploding heads.
There are so many layers of wrong involved in what Susan G Komen did last week. I just wouldn't even know where to begin and my blood pressure has finally come back to normal, so I'm not going to try to outline all the reasons I used the word "apoplectic" to describe my state of mind last week. Suffice it to say---it was the ugliest ugly that ever uglied. As each new revelation came out in the news, whether it be about how SGK sued other charities over the color pink and the word "cure," or the video of SGK's VP talking about how same sex couples shouldn't be allowed to adopt children, or the salaries of their executives (where exactly is the $$ for a nearly 500,000 salary for their CEO coming from?), my back muscles tightened exponentially until they commenced spasming sometime around Thursday morning.
While I should have been happy to read about the reversal of their decision to defund Planned Parenthood, the wishy-washiness of the decision was apparent in their statement. They said they are honoring all of their funding commitments this year & invite PP to apply again in the future. Hmmm....am I the only one who reads, "Fine. We'll give them their money this year, but we're going to spend the next year figuring out how to defund them again. And we'll be spending more of your hard-earned money on Ari Fleischer's consulting fees to figure out how do it better this time."? Yeah, so.....thanks, but no thanks, SGK.
Last night the group of amazing women I walked with last year met for the first time since our post-walk party in September. A couple of weeks ago, this reunion would have been to brainstorm training schedules, training walk locations and fundraising strategies. Instead, last night we sadly agreed that we are no longer going to associate ourselves with SGK. We agreed that given the circumstances surrounding the past week, and the colossal questions raised about SGK's distribution of funds and management and political associations, there is too much doubt in our minds to commit ourselves to their organization at this point.
It is heart-breaking because the experience of walking last year was one of the greatest of my life. It is heart breaking because of how hard we all worked to gather the money we blindly handed over to this behemoth of an organization with no idea what they were actually going to do with it. And heart-breaking because I realize that SGK still does lead the charge in funding research for finding a cure for breast cancer. I wish I could say I felt like the re-funding of PP and the resignation of Karen Handel was enough to restore my faith in the organization. But I can't. The taste left in my mouth is too foul and the doubt left in my mind is too powerful to wish away.
However, that does not mean I've come to the end of my participation in the fight to end breast cancer. While agreeing last night that we are no longer going to put forth our efforts in the name of the Susan G Komen organization, my team rededicated itself to the fight against breast cancer. It is horrifying how many of us know someone who has fought and won, is currently fighting, or has fought and tragically lost against this horrible disease--we simply can NOT turn our back on them, or the millions of other women who need the funds we are able to raise for research and treatment. So we will continue fundraising, holding our annual benefit concert and silent auction, and we will be researching smaller, local breast cancer charities and breast heath organizations to receive money we raise through those efforts. My hope is that other walkers in other parts of the country will consider going local as well, cutting out SGK as the middle man, making sure more of the money they raise goes directly to research and breast exams and treatment costs.
And I hope that SGK will be forced to use this experience as a turning point in their own management. I hope that those people who do choose to continue to fundraise and walk for SGK, regardless of what "side" of the Planned Parenthood funding fiasco they were on--will demand that SGK pare down its bureaucracy, abandon its practice of basing decisions on politics, and insist that they provide transparent and comprehensive information of where every penny raised by their loyal following goes.
My heart is heavy this morning as I close one chapter. But I'm looking forward to the next chapter and the renewed commitment my team has made to fighting breast cancer in our own little corner of the world and making a difference in the lives of the women (and men) in our communities.
My sincerest thanks to those of you who believed in me last year and contributed to my fundraising efforts. I am hopeful that the vast majority of the money I raised with my team went to research and funding we can feel proud of. And now we move on.