Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $800 million in research and provided more than $1.6 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life.

The Komen Charlotte Story


Penelope Wilson & Annie Wingo

Susan G. Komen Charlotte was founded on a personal promise also. Penelope Wilson’s partner, Annie Wingo, died of breast cancer in 1992. The following year when Penelope moved to Charlotte, she promised herself she would try to do something to help in the fight against breast cancer. Upon discovering Komen, she knew she had found a great resource. Komen did it all; they provided funding for research to find a cure for breast cancer, but also supported local education, screening and treatment programs to help with prevention and the message of early detection.

Penelope wrote an appeal for help and placed it in the local newspaper. And the rest is history. A wonderful group of women and men came together to hold the first annual Susan G. Komen Charlotte Race for the Cure on October 4, 1997. Co-chairs, Beth Kemp and Penelope Wilson, expected 1,000 participants, but received over 2,300. In 1999, after growing the Race for two years, the group decided to establish Komen Charlotte by incorporating with the National office. Spearheaded by Ellen Cuthbertson Archer, the incorporation created a fifteen-member Board of Directors to pursue breast cancer and breast health outreach on a year-round basis. In 2001, a full-time executive director was hired for the first time.

Since its inception, Komen Charlotte has made great strides in improving breast health services and reaching out to the underserved members in the local community. We have an established annual grant funding program to award local breast health organizations for innovative breast health projects in a 13-county service area. We hold multiple fundraisers during the year, not just the annual Komen Charlotte Race for the Cure.

Historical Timeline:

1996 – Charlotte activist Penelope Wilson envisions bringing the Komen Race for the Cure to Charlotte.

October 4, 1997 – First Charlotte Race for the Cure is held at the Mint Museum on Randolph Road

1998 – First community profile complete; first community health grants awarded

1999 – Komen Charlotte Affiliate officially established ; Race for the Cure moves to Uptown Charlotte

2001 – First executive director is hired

2002 – First Laugh for the Cure event is held at the Comedy Club

2004 – Race for the Cure raises $1 million

2008 – Komen Charlotte awards $1 million in community health grants

2010 – First Pink Sunday education program is organized in African American churches

2011 – Race for the Cure raises $1.6 million

2012 – Race for the Cure raises $1.4 million

2012 – Komen Charlotte awards $1.4 million in community health grants

2013 – Komen Charlotte awards $1.2 million in grants to 21 community health programs

2013 – Race for the Cure raises $1.5 million

2014 – Komen Charlotte awards $906,000 in grants to 17 community health programs; $10,000 in small grants

2015 – Komen Charlotte awards more than $1.1 million in grants to 17 community health programs