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Martin Health System Will Be The Host Hospital For Komen South Florida's 2016 Race For The Cure

Martin Health System provides life-saving care for breast cancer patients every day. This year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation is sending Martin Health a little extra love.

Nearly every day, Mary Smith talks with a woman who has breast cancer.

“This is the fight for their life,” she says after ending a call with a young mother who was recently diagnosed. “[The patient] felt today that she wasn’t alone and that there’s hope for her.”

Smith is one of two breast health navigators at Martin Health System, a position that allows her to guide anyone diagnosed with breast cancer through the myriad of tests and treatments on the horizon. The hospital’s breast cancer program, which has helped hundreds of patients with treatment, has in part been so successful because of support from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and its iconic Race for the Cure.

The race—a national fundraiser for the Komen Foundation—is held locally every January in West Palm Beach. The next race, which is planned for Jan. 30, will partner with Martin Health System—making it the 2016 host hospital.

Martin Health and the Komen Foundation began the partnership in 2004 when Martin Health became a Komen grant recipient. As of December 2014, Komen has provided close to $1.5 million to Martin Health to fund the breast health navigator program and to lower the cost of care for breast cancer patients who can’t afford treatment.

The funding makes a huge impact on treatment, says breast health navigator Carolyn Shore.

“Our goal is to reach every single person who needs assistance,” she says, adding that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

A hospital can become a grant recipient if it has goals and priorities that coincide with Komen’s, and Martin Health fits the bill, says Komen South Florida executive director Dayve Gabbard.

The breast health navigator program is the only one like it in Martin and St. Lucie counties. The program is also expanding to communities such as Indiantown, where people may not be as familiar with the hospital’s services.

The relationship between Martin Health and Komen goes back many years, Gabbard says. The last year that the hospital was a host was in 2011. Events then included a “pink glove” dance and a survivors’ night, celebrating those who won their battles against breast cancer.

Serving as the host hospital comes with some serious benefits. The hospital will gain exposure by being included on more than a million Komen messages throughout the campaign. Martin Health will also have the opportunity to present on the day of the race.

Plus, this is the race’s 25th birthday, and Gabbard estimates that 12,000 to 15,000 people will be in attendance to help meet Komen’s fundraising goal of $1.2 million.

“It’s going to be a really special day,” Gabbard says.

To the breast health navigators who work so closely with the patients, the support from Komen and the race is invaluable.

“To me this was never a job,” Shore says, her bright eyes holding six years of emotions from guiding breast cancer patients through the disease’s turbulent journey. “I’ve always felt this was an honor.”

Ready, Set, Go!

Everything you need to know about running in the 2016 Komen Race for the Cure:

What: Komen Race for the Cure South Florida—a 5K race benefiting local hospitals and breast cancer patients.

Where: Downtown West Palm Beach

When: Jan. 30, 2016

Time: The women’s timed race starts at 7:30 a.m. The men’s timed race starts at 8:15 a.m. The untimed race begins at 9 a.m.

Where to register: komensouthflorida.org

How to fundraise: Komen South Florida makes it easy to fundraise online. When you register for the race, you automatically get your own fundraising website, which can be shared and promoted over social media. For fundraising on the go, download the SGK Fundraise app. It syncs with your contacts and social media so you can send pre-written messages through text message or email. You can even recruit team members from the app.

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