When the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood earlier this year, the result was a firestorm of criticism about politicizing Race for the Cure, an event that's about ending the scourge of breast cancer, not competing ideologies. The decision was reversed, but observers still wondered if participation in this year's Race would be impacted. The answer at yesterday's edition was a clear yes: Attendance was down, and down considerably. But those who participated were as enthusiastic as ever, as is clear from the photos below.
My family and I have participated in the celebration walk of the Race for the past decade or so, spurred by the breast-cancer battle of my wife's former boss -- a survivor who's still doing great today. We typically drive from our Ken Caryl Ranch-area home to either the Mineral or Englewood light-rail station and ride the train to the Pepsi Center -- the pre- and post-race gathering spot.
During most recent years, the passenger compartments of the trains have been as packed as a phone booth in a 1950s-era fraternity stunt (that image is anachronistic on a whole slew of levels in the 21st Century). But on Sunday, there was plenty of room and seats available on the way there and back. And during the walk itself, the streets were noticeably less crowded, with a lot less elbow-to-elbow jostling. In fact, we were able to walk five across at times -- something that would have been unimaginable just last year.
The Denver Post's crowd estimate yesterday was 40,000, as compared to 50,000 last year -- a falloff of a startling 20 percent, if my admittedly sorry math skills can be trusted. And the declines in some other cities are even more striking. The New York Daily News reports that enrollment in recent Komen-affiliated 5Ks in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco were down 40 percent and 50 percent respectively, and an Indianapolis run in April was off by 11,000 participants.
Still, Planned Parenthood wasn't a point of discussion among the folks we encountered on the streets of Denver yesterday morning. Instead, the focus was on remembering those who'd been lost to this terrible disease, saluting those who are winning their own personal fights, and raising money to prevent more women (and their loved ones) from having to go through such tragedies. Spirits were high and smiles were prevalent, as is clear from these photos shared by the Komen Denver Facebook page. Check them out here.
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More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Komen Denver affiliate rejects ban on Planned Parenthood grants."