A bombshell announcement by one of the nation's most prominent fundraising organizations.
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure says it is canceling its once-popular three day, 60-mile walks that have raised millions for breast cancer research.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Dallas-based organization writes: "While the Komen 3-Day has brought great awareness to the breast cancer cause, participation levels the last four years have made it difficult to financially sustain an event of this magnitude in 14 cities."
"I think it's unfortunate," says Komen supporter Lauren Ehrsam, "because Susan G. Komen - regardless of what their values are - has done absolutely incredible things for women who have suffered from such a terrible disease."
Last October, 1,600 people participated in Washington's 3-Day Walk for the Cure. That was down from 2,500 in 2011.
Many are turning their backs on Komen after it cut funding to Planned Parenthood's cancer screening program. It is a decision Komen later reversed and apologized for.
Still, Tuesday's announcement caught fundraising experts by surprise.
"Because it's not just a fundraising event," says Nancy Racette with the Arlington, Va.-based Association of Fundraising Professionals. "It's a marketing event. It's a big brand recognition event. Everybody knows Komen because of that walk, so I was a little surprised and taken aback because I think it's primarily how they raise money."
With donations to the D.C. 3-day reportedly plummeting from $5 million to $2 million last year at a time when giving overall is up.
"Think about what happens when you stop participating," Racette says. "And what's really going to happen is that there's less money to go to breast cancer research. And is that a good thing? Probably not. Right? We haven't cured it yet."
Komen officials say 3-day fundraisers in Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Diego and four other U.S. cities will continue beyond this year.
But no guarantees for D.C., except that there will be no Walk for the Cure in 2014.
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