OCEAN CITY -- The boards in Ocean City will once again be flooded with pink this April when the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure returns to the resort town for its second year.
Despite dismal weather conditions, the debut Race for the Cure in Ocean City last year was a big win for both the town and the fight against breast cancer, according to Race and Development Coordinator Margo Mandes.
“In total we raised just over $351,000,” she said during a pre-race press conference last Friday. “Seventh-five percent of the net proceeds go to fund local grant programs that provide education, screening, treatment, and support services.”
A total of 3,662 people registered for that first race on the Boardwalk, with 85 percent of those registrants coming from Maryland. Twenty-two other states were also represented. The turnout was incredible, according to City Council President Lloyd Martin, especially for a debut event that clashed with cloudy skies and a soggy Boardwalk.
“Last year’s event was a huge success. Despite some wet weather, our beautiful Boardwalk and our beach offered a perfect location for nearly 5,000 participants who came to Ocean City to support a great cause,” Martin said.
The efforts of Komen Maryland, added Martin, are invaluable in the fight against breast cancer. Last year the organization awarded nearly $2.5 million to 29 grant programs across the state and an additional $41,000 to five small grants. Komen Maryland estimated that more than 25,000 people were affected by their educational efforts leading to 9,997 women receiving clinical breast exams and 58 cases being diagnosed. Roughly 3,000 women statewide received some form of support with 471 supplied with direct financial aid.
While much of Komen Maryland’s focus is on the population centers across the bay, the Eastern Shore remains a priority funding and education site, according to Mandes.
“We are proud to have invested more than $3 million on the Eastern Shore since 1998,” she said.
The numbers may be a lot to process, but 2013 Race Chair Suzy Taylor reminded those attended at last Friday’s conference at Seacrets that the fight against breast cancer is hard to frame with just statistics. At its core, it’s about families, according to Taylor.
“This cause is really very important to me personally. I lost my mother to breast cancer in 1980,” she said. “And I lost my mother’s sister, my favorite aunt, in 2006.”
According to Taylor, when her mother first learned of her diagnosis, breast cancer “wasn’t something that could be said publically.” There wasn’t a true support network in place, she continued, and every family and every individual fought their own private battles. But organizations like Komen, which Taylor said has “led the charge on breast cancer awareness and education,” have changed the culture to the point where no woman or man has to stand or fight alone.
Martin agreed, calling survivors and Komen Maryland “true warriors” in the fight against breast cancer.
While the altruistic nature of Race for the Cure could be considered enough justification to bring it into Ocean City, Taylor pointed out that the event also serves as a booster shot to the resort’s economy and a strong warm-up before the crowds traditionally begin to return in May.
“I have seen firsthand the economic benefits of having this event come to Ocean City,” said Taylor, also a small business owner.
Komen Maryland estimated that last year’s race had an economic impact of $896,000 to Ocean City. The impact was based on having 2,800 non-local race participants at an estimated $320 per person.
The goal for this year’s race, which will take place on April 21, is set higher at 5,000 race participants and a fundraising mark of $435,000. Komen Maryland will be bringing other community events into the area alongside the race. April 12 through 21 will be Dine Out for the Cure, where participating restaurants donate a portion of their profits for the week.
Seven Ocean City eateries participated during the first Dine Out in 2012 with all contributing 20 percent of sales from at least one meal on certain days during the week and several participating for multiple meals on multiple days. Like Race for the Cure, 75 percent of the net stays in Maryland for local programs while the remaining 25 percent is earmarked for breast cancer research on the global level.
Also in April businesses in Ocean City are being encouraged to “Paint the Town Pink” by decorating their buildings in the color. Judges will select one business as the best decorated and award them a free beachfront advertising package. The “Seaboard Business Prize Package” will run on certain days between May 24 and June 7 and will include one 10 second advertisement displayed every five minutes running the entire length of the beach. Also included will be 16 beach passes worth $1,280.
For more information or to register for the race, visit www.komenmd.org and select Ocean City under the Race for the Cure tab.