By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
The annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure turns 20 this Saturday with its biggest change yet: It officially goes global. The event held to raise funds to fight breast cancer is to expand past U.S. shores to several other countries, including Italy, Germany, and Egypt. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, herself a prominent advocate for breast cancer education and research, will cohost the event, which has attracted a record number of race teams from federal agencies, foreign embassies, and congressional offices. Whispers learns that with one day left to register, teams from 61 federal agencies, 31 congressional offices, and 50 embassies have signed up for the race where walkers and runners traditionally wear pink. "Forget about red state vs. blue state, for a day at least, this is about the state of pink," says a spokesman.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker says, "This is what needs to be done to be effective." While raising money is the goal, boosting awareness and education of the issue is also a key to the annual event. Her new goal: As part of her latest role as a World Health Organization cancer ambassador, Brinker hopes to add cancer to the big three ailments of TB, AIDS, and malaria that are evaluated and treated by world health groups, especially in poor and rural areas. She also wants cancer to become part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Brinker's efforts over the past 28 eight years were born from her promise to her dying sister Susan Komen to end breast cancer. The Cure is the nation's largest campaign of its kind. This year, 120 races are planned. "I'm not getting any younger, and I don't want to leave this world knowing I didn't fulfill my promise to my sister," she told us.
Washington traditionally holds the main event, and this year looks to be a star-studded affair as it is rechristened the "Komen Global Race for the Cure" to address the 1.3 million women worldwide diagnosed with breast cancer. Jill Biden will most likely head up the walkers and runners. "My husband, Joe, and I are thrilled to participate in the ongoing effort to raise awareness, fund research, and empower people throughout the world in the fight against breast cancer," says Biden. Other participants include Serbia's crown prince and princess, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, actress Sarah Chalke, CBS Early Show anchor Maggie Rodriguez, and local WUSA anchor Andrea Roane. And someone dressed as the Pink Panther will start the race, which will pay tribute to the more than 4,000 breast cancer survivors participating in 18 countries.
Ironically, the race founder rarely gets to run or walk it because other duties keep Brinker busy. But, she says metaphorically, "I run this race every day."
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