Since 1999, the Southern Arizona Affiliate has been serving the Tucson and Southern Arizona communities by providing funding for local life-saving programs that address education, screening and treatment for women who otherwise could not afford it. As is the case with every Affiliate, the Southern Arizona Affiliate was started to address unmet needs in the southern Arizona community. How amazing the power of the individual is! A small group of women, including a local radiologist and a county health department employee, began the process of putting together a Komen Race for the Cure®, and in 1999 the first Komen Southern Arizona Race for the Cure® was held.
We are now entering our 7th year of existence, and how we have grown. The two biggest challenges we have faced have been 1) Making the transition from being recognized as a Race for the Cure® to being recognized as Komen for the Cure and 2) Keeping up with the constant growth in community needs. The first seemed to perpetuate the second. As we were able to identify ourselves successfully as "Your Community Contact for all Breast Health Needs," the community began to look to us as just that.
We are very proud of our accomplishments in creating year-round exposure for our Affiliate, and specifically of the event that starts our October Breast Cancer Awareness campaign: The Pink Ribbon Tie-A-Thon. In 2005, in conjunction with Ford, we hosted our 3rd annual Pink Ribbon Tie-A-Thon and had the public come out and get tied to the cure by having their car antennae tied with pink ribbons.
We had four radio remotes throughout the day, encouraging community members to drive through our pink ribbon arch, get their cars tied, get free T-shirts, pink bracelets, and bags of free education materials. Involvement of local "Men of Tucson" brought out individuals such as our City Manager and morning radio DJs who tied the cars and encouraged community members to learn more about the disease and the organization.
We also used the opportunity to showcase our grantees. We encouraged each car that drove through to stop and check out the breast cancer resources available in the community by visiting a tent that housed our grantees and a Komen education table.
The most exciting aspect of the event was the fact that we provided 30 mammograms, underwritten by Ford, to women who were uninsured and below a certain income level.
The day was a wonderful event to heighten community awareness of the disease while providing information and services to the at-risk and underserved population in our community. The Pink Tie-A-Thon was just the start of our campaign to put breast cancer in the forefront of people's minds in Tucson. It opened the door for other successful events including Passionately Pink for the Cure, Sing for the Cure®, other cause-related marketing programs locally and nationally, radio health segments that aired regularly throughout the month, public service announcements recorded by a local TV anchor that aired for the last two weeks of the month and much, much more.
We are excited and proud to be part of an organization that is innovative in its approach to accomplishing our mission through education, screening and treatment, and we will continue to work to make Komen synonymous with "Early Detection" and "Cure" in the fight against breast cancer.