When Suzy was diagnosed, Nancy says people talked about it as if it were a automatic death sentence. She says people would cross the street when they saw her sister because they believed Suzy was contagious. It was this type of ignorance that Nancy was determined to change. In 1983, Nancy organized the first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®.
Nancy's dream was that the race would give people hope. "I was so disturbed at the way people talked about breast cancer. ... We've got to put hope in this thing. We've got to lighten up the landscape somehow. We've got to educate people," Nancy says. "First there must be awareness. Then there can be change."
Nancy says people told her the race wouldn't work because nobody wanted to talk about breast cancer. "It was drizzling that day," she says. "Everything was against us, but the people came." In all, 800 people attended the first race.
In 2008, the Race for the Cure celebrated its 25th anniversary. Over the years, more than 1 million people have participated. "This would be the one event that would make people relate and bond and celebrate survivorship and celebrate hope," Nancy says. "That's the most important thing—the hope."