As reported by the New Britain Herald, May 10, 2008.

Race's Goal Is Always in Mind: End to Fatal Disease

By Jackie Majerus

NEW BRITAIN — Organizers expect to raise $500,000 from this year’s Race in the Park, all to be used in Connecticut.

Joyce Bray, president of the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative, which organizes the race, said the money raised comes from sponsors, entry fees, pledges and donations.

After the race, a large grants committee made up of physicians, teachers and survivors will determine how to allocate the money, Bray said.

“It goes all different places,” she said.

Former U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, of New Britain, an honorary co-chairwoman of the race, said she’s been involved for years and was part of the decision to break away from the national Race for the Cure and keep the funds local.

After a time, working with a nationwide organization can get frustrating to local organizers, Johnson said. While the work is still being done locally, the national group dictates more and more.

“The very volunteers that are doing the work begin to get rolled over,” Johnson said.

That’s why Johnson and others supported the plan to do a race focused strictly on Connecticut and use it to support research within the state as well as to help programs serving cancer patients.

Bray said the organization wanted to work with local researchers rather than send the money out of state. “We feel like we’re spending it in the right way,” she said.

“I’m real proud of what they’ve done,” Johnson said.

The Komen Connecticut Race for the Cure continues to donate money locally, its New Britain volunteers point out, including recently giving $29,595 to the Hospital of Central Connecticut at New Britain General and $10,000 to the city’s YWCA.

Peter Deckers, executive vice president at the University of Connecticut Health Center and a survivor of prostate cancer, said research is important but costly.

“Biomedical research is exceptionally expensive today, and we need this help to find a cure for this and many diseases,” he said.

Deckers started practicing medicine 42 years ago, and recalled that “back in 1966, it was dismal for women with breast cancer. We’ve made enormous strides with early diagnosis and treatment.”

There were no mammograms in the 1960s, he said, and less than 50 of breast cancers were survived. Now cancer is being detected and treated earlier, with better results.

“We’re going through a process today at the molecular level. Funds are critical to develop a path for research,” he said.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who attended the event held Saturday in Walnut Hill Park, agreed that “This is not your grandmother’s or your mother’s disease anymore. Times are different. With early detection, people are surviving.’

As lieutenant governor, Rell held annual screenings with a mammogram unit in her office at the Capitol. Her diagnosis of breast cancer after taking office didn’t stop her from winning election in 2006 to become the second female governor in the state.

It can be tough to get federal money for breast cancer research, Johnson said. When she was in Congress, she said, lawmakers put research money into a Department of Defense bill, just to get it passed.

“They have a healthy research capability,” Johnson said. “It’s been very valuable and it’s been very important.”

Race co-chairwoman Joan Caron, herself a cancer researcher and eight-year survivor, said, “This organization is likely keeping breast cancer research alive.”