Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $800 million in research and provided more than $1.6 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life.
East TN Affiliate’s Story
The East TN affiliate began in January 2017. It was the combination of the Knoxville and Tri-Cities Affiliate. We feel that those 2 original affiliates have a history of their own which deserves to be told:
Knoxville Affiliate Story
The Knoxville Affiliate began as a promise of one woman: Renee J. Repka. During the years of watching her mother battle breast cancer, Renee began participating in Races around the country. She witnessed the power of one other woman, Nancy Goodman Brinker, in making a difference in the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, while completing her coursework for a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Beatrice Repka passed away.
Fueled by grief and the need to “do something”, Renee took charge and convinced a group of her friends and colleagues to “bring Race for the Cure®” to Knoxville. Their first Race was held on September 27, 1997 at World’s Fair Park with a 5K run/walk for women only and one mile co-ed fun run/walk. One thousand participants were expected; 2,038 showed up and Susan G. Komen Knoxville Race for the Cure was off and (literally) running!
After two successful Races, the volunteer group applied to Komen’s Headquarters in Dallas for Affiliate status. On November 12, 1999, the Knoxville Affiliate of Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. was incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit.
Today as then, Komen Knoxville continues to provide education, screening, and treatment support for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
Tri- Cities Affiliate Story:
The Tri-Cities Affiliate was established in 2005. Work to establish a Komen Affiliate to address the breast health gaps in our region actually began in 2002 when two major hospital systems (Wellmont Regional Cancer Network and Mountain States Health Alliance), along with a group of community volunteers, identified the need and began looking for a solution. Work began immediately to prepare the Community Profile to identify the critical gaps. The two hospital systems, along with the region’s largest employer (Eastman Chemical Company) took the lead role as founders with both in-kind and financial support.
In October, 2005, the Tri-Cities Affiliate was officially formed, with a working Board of Directors with 15 members.
Each year, through these efforts and the generous support of our corporate, individual, and foundation donors, third party event fundraising, hundreds of volunteers, survivors, activists and the Annual Tri-Cities Susan G. Komen Race for Cure® event, our Affiliate is able to raise funds to provide grants to hospitals, health organizations and non-profit community organizations. These organizations are our partners in providing provide breast health education & breast cancer screening and treatment options for medically under-served women throughout our service area.
The Affiliate is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in a 17-county and 2-city (Bristol and Norton, VA) service area spanning Southwestern Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee.
Nine of the 17 counties we serve are located in Southwest Virginia and were divested to the Komen VA Blue Ridge affiliate in September 2016. The remaining 8 are located in Northeast Tennessee.