Personal Stories, Community, Leadership
By: Emily Sant
Susan G. Komen is where the end of breast cancer begins, and our volunteers – whether
they are stuffing envelopes, coordinating a gala or crewing a 3-Day® event – are
the lifeblood of Komen and our mission. Their passion and desire to help end
breast cancer forever is at the forefront of all they do, and without them Komen
couldn’t have become the global movement it is today.
We have many different types of volunteers. Some are
working on behalf of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers or friends. Some
are giving back because they have undergone their own breast cancer journey. No
matter who they volunteer in honor of, each is a valued member of the Komen
Stephanie (Steph) Atkins of Philadelphia began her journey
supporting Susan G. Komen almost 30 years ago as a Race For The Cure®
participant. In 2005, she began volunteering as a 3-Day Crew member and hasn’t
looked back. Steph does all this in memory of her mother. At just two years
old, Steph lost her 36-year-old mom to stage IV, metastatic breast cancer.
Diagnosed while Steph was in utero, her mother bravely underwent treatment,
doing everything that she could to be able to watch her daughter grow up.
“Being so young when she died, there’s a lot I don’t remember about my mom,”
says Steph. “The 3-Day became a place to talk about her and learn what she went
Steph Atkins as a
baby with her Mother
2011, Steph learned about an opportunity to volunteer as a 3-Day Youth Corps
Captain. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Youth Corps is a select group of 10-to 16-year-olds
who participate as crew members on the event. In many cases, Youth Corps
members have lost a loved one to breast cancer. Steph had already been
volunteering for kids who lost a parent, so this felt like a natural
progression. Little did she know that the Youth Corps would become her family.
providing a safe place where the kids can talk to each other and have a support
group,” explains Steph, who has been a Youth Corps Captain for the Philadelphia
3-Day ever since. “Cancer affects the whole family. Growing up, there wasn’t
anyone in my friend group who understood what I was going through. It’s hard to
talk to someone if they don’t have any way to relate.” Being a Youth Corps
Captain is Steph’s way of giving the support she wishes she had.
Steph Atkins and
her Youth Corps Team
addition to volunteering her time for Komen, Steph helps her Youth Corps team
fundraise and also raises money herself each year. “I’m not a doctor or a
scientist. I won’t be directly curing cancer, but growing up without a mom
sucks, so this is how I can help Komen find the cures,” says Steph. “I started my
work with the 3-Day Youth Corps because of my mom and now the list of reasons
why I stay is so long.” This 3-Day season, Steph and her Youth Corps team are
expecting to break $200,000 raised throughout her tenure.
Newly married, Steph is now a stepmom to
5-year-old Evie. “Next year I will be the same age that my mother was when she
passed away,” she says. “I’m alive and there’s so much I can do. I want to be
there for my daughter’s entire life."
Atkins with her husband, Robert R. Atkins Jr. and Evie on their wedding day
story is just one of many that exemplifies the passion of our supporters and
volunteers, and their dedication to Susan G. Komen and its mission. To her and
the thousands of others, we thank you. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you
for your donations. Thank you for your time and efforts. Thank you for being a
part of where the end of breast cancer begins.
If you are not a volunteer for Susan G. Komen
but would like to be, please contact your local Komen Affiliate or join
us at a Susan
G. Komen 3-Day event near you.
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