Komen Philadelphia CEO draws on the inspiration of those who fought with valor to empower the breast cancer movement.
I dedicate this blog with love to the memory of Officer Karen Walker. All of you have experienced Karen at least once, as Komen Philadelphia chose her to be a featured breast cancer survivor in our 25th Celebration Video. We met Karen barely two years ago when the City of Philadelphia Police Department embraced our Race for the Cure, forming their team Pink Cuffs and setting out on a mission to raise awareness and funds in support of our work. While, of course, many on the police force had their own personal connections with breast cancer, they rallied a team in 2014 in support of Officer Walker, who at age 47 was diagnosed in September of that same year and completed her treatment – breast cancer free – a few weeks before Mother’s Day.
Karen became the inspiration of Team Pink Cuffs, her hope, determination and courage in facing breast cancer leading hundreds of Police Department members to join the team and, together, raise more than $15,000 in 2014/2015. Moreover, Karen and the team Captain, Officer Roslyn Downing-Talley, set out as “sisters in blue-and-pink” to bring Komen Philadelphia’s awareness and educational messages through the Police Department force, support staff, leadership, family and friends. With Karen serving as a living testimony to the importance of early detection and “fighting the good fight,” and she and Roslyn becoming voices of empowerment and access to treatment for women in need, our mission undoubtedly grew – all through the inspiration of Karen Walker.
For her leadership and devotion, Komen Philadelphia selected Karen to be our Honorary Team New Balance Survivor for our 25th Celebration Race for the Cure. Shortly thereafter, we learned Karen had experienced a recurrence of the disease – it attacked so quickly, the New Balance Honor was one she was too ill to accept in person at our Race. Sadly, Karen lost her battle – and the breast cancer community lost an amazing friend and advocate – in late June of this year.
As a woman who protected our community every day with valor and devotion, Karen will be remembered.
As a woman who brought power and hope to every man, woman and child fighting breast cancer, Karen will be remembered.
I share her story briefly with all of you now, and ask our entire Komen Philadelphia community to add Karen Walker to the list of people whose legacy we have a responsibility to uphold as we carry out our united mission and individualize actions in the fight against breast cancer.
Karen Walker’s life and legacy have touched my heart deeply – and I know this holds true for many of you, as well as our staff and our volunteers. Her passing is a powerful reminder that our fight is far from over, and our work is far from complete. In barely one year’s time, a woman who arose from a breast cancer diagnosis strong, vibrant and confident, was taken by the disease. As long as breast cancer has this ability to sweep in and destroy lives, Komen Philadelphia will continue to fight.
Our leadership, Board of Directors and staff are dedicated to continuing to lead that fight by working even harder, finding more opportunities, innovating solutions and being the voice of hope to everyone we serve. I am confident that everyone united in this fight with us – from our volunteers to fundraisers, educators to advocates, sponsors to donors – will hold Karen and millions of others in their hearts and join us in finishing the fight against breast cancer.
Elaine I. Grobman
Chief Executive Office
Susan G. Komen Philadelphia