The annual Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk ended in Seattle on Sunday, raising $3.4 million for breast-cancer research, screening and education. That's about a third less than last year's total.
The key to walking 60 miles in three days?
“It’s all about the socks,” said Barbara Griffin. “Change your socks at lunch.”
Griffin, of Bremerton, was blister-free and still had some spring in her step Sunday as she powered through the final stretch of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk.
It was Griffin’s fourth, and Seattle’s eighth. Participation and fundraising were both down more than a third from last year, as the organization struggles to recover from a controversy over its funding of breast-cancer screening programs at Planned Parenthood.
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“I know that it’s been a tough year for Komen, and we’re moving forward,” said Dr. Sheri Phillips, national spokeswoman for the three-day walk. “I’m not spending my time thinking about why fundraising is down.”
About 1,300 people walked in Seattle this year, raising $3.4 million for breast-cancer research, screening and education. Two thousand made the trek last year, raising $5.3 million.
Griffin’s eight-person team bucked the trend, pulling in more money than last year. “Fundraising turned out to be easy,” she said, from behind pink-rimmed sunglasses.
Other participants blamed the sluggish economy for at least part of this year’s overall downturn. Each walker has to raise at least $2,300 in donations, which was probably tough in some places, said Cheryl Klatt, of Lacey, Thurston County.
Participation has been down at Komen events across the country since early last year, when the organization pulled funding for breast exams at Planned Parenthood clinics. The move was quickly reversed, but the backlash lingers.
Some liberal supporters were shocked at what they perceived as a concession to anti-abortion-rights forces. Some conservatives were dismayed to discover any of Komen’s money went to Planned Parenthood.
But on Sunday, most walkers were more concerned with making it to the finish line than with politics.
“If I stop now, I might not get going again,” said Mike Brown, of Tacoma, who was walking with a pronounced limp. “I’ve got a cramp in my left foot,” he said. “I’m trying to walk it out — but it’s not working.”
Most of the walkers spent the past two nights tucked into pink tents at Marymoor Park in Redmond, roughing it — kind of. There were hot showers, hot meals and even entertainment. Brown and his team opted for even less rustic accommodations, booking a block of rooms in a nearby hotel.
“I’m totally man enough to say I didn’t sleep in a tent.”
With about three miles to go, Becky Kinnear was down to her stocking feet, wishing the pink, nylon wings pinned to the back of her shirt were real. “She told me she had an in with Tinker Bell and could get some of that fairy dust,” the Yelm, Thurston County, woman said, pointing accusingly at her best friend, Cheryl Klatt.
Klatt laughed. This was her third walk, and she said the pain is offset by the camaraderie and the sense of making a contribution. “One of these days there’s going to be a cure, and I want to say I helped.”
Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or firstname.lastname@example.org