Past controversy hurting Komen Houston's efforts - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Past controversy hurting Komen Houston's efforts

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

The Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" is only two days away, but funding for some of the free screenings and other breast health services offered by the Komen Houston affiliate may be in jeopardy.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is one of the country's largest non-profits funding breast cancer awareness programs, mammograms and research.  "Race for the Cure" participants and Komen supporters are excited for Saturday's 5K but this year, the organization has suffered record-low fundraising.

Looking at 38-year-old blonde bombshell Kristen Barley, you would never guess she was diagnosed with breast cancer just four years ago.

"You get sad, angry.  You get scared.  You don't know what your future holds," Barley said.

Cancer runs in her family but amazingly, she's been cancer free for the last four years.  Much of her motivation and positive attitude comes from the help she's received from the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

"The research that happens, the support system within Komen Houston affiliate; they've helped me so much to share my story and support other women going through cancer," she said.

As the foundation continues to help thousands of women every day, thousands of their supporters have walked away.  Earlier in 2012, the Dallas-based charity announced they would stop making grants to Planned Parenthood.  After the decision received widespread criticism, the foundation reversed its decision three days later, but it seems the less than favorable publicity has affected "Race for the Cure" donations and registration.

"I think it has hurt everyone, the whole city, the whole country, so it's not just us," said Adriana Higgins, the Executive Director of Houston's Komen affiliate.

Right now, Higgins said only 25,000 people are registered for the race.  Up to 30,000 are expected, but that number is 3,000 less than 2011.

"I think there might be a few thousand less, but I think the mission still holds true for many," Higgins said.

As of Thursday night, only 38 percent of the $3 million goal has been reached.  In 2011, over $4 million was raised.

"A large percentage of our funds come in after the race because in the month of October, so each individual has the opportunity to raise money up till Nov. 15," Higgins said.

Higgins and Barley said they may have lost some supporters but if they have ever been affected by breast cancer in some form of fashion, they'll eventually get back on board.

"I think we have in the last year, we've taken some hits for reasons that are beyond our control, but judge us on what we've done here in Houston," Higgins said.

"Controversy is controversy.  It doesn't matter where, what industry, if people believe in the mission, in the cause, the positive will outshine any controversy, so there's no shaking Komen," Barley said.

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