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Breast Cancer Survivor Becomes ‘More Than Pink’ Grassroots Fundraiser to Make Difference for Others

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Breast cancer survivor Ann Kobler, center, pictured with her husband Mitch and Alicia Barbieri, Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure Manager, takes action through fundraising. Credits: Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey
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Monroe Woman Decides to ‘Shake My Can’ for Komen Central and South Jersey Race Nov. 6

MONROE TOWNSHIP—Sept. 29, 2016—Four years ago, Ann Kolber entered the fight of her life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Even before her diagnosis, Kolber was making an impact and helping others by fundraising and participating in the Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure. She has participated in fundraising and the Komen CSNJ Race since 2007, raising more than $42,000.

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“I had a friend who had breast cancer and she was involved with the Race, so I went along with her,” said Kolber, who has collected money each year. “The Race is a way of making the community aware of what’s going on with fundraising and helps people get their mammograms and realize that someday there will be a cure that will make it all go away.”

Unfortunately, Race fundraising fell short last year, which means Komen Central and South Jersey Affiliate was unable to fulfill 21 percent of the breast-cancer screening and education requests this year. Now, the upcoming Race for the Cure on Nov. 6 at Six Flags Great Adventure carries added importance to the region. “If you believe unfunded breast cancer screenings and education is a problem, then join us Nov. 6 at the Race for the Cure, and be part of the solution,” said Sally Sheperdson, CEO of Komen Central and South Jersey.

Registration for the Race is available at www.komencsnj.org/race. The organization provides grant funding for breast cancer education and screenings. Nationally, Komen has set a bold goal to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in half within the next 10 years by improving access to quality and timely cancer care for the underserved and enhancing Komen’s research focus on lethal breast cancers.

Kolber is one survivor who is ready for the challenge.

Making an impact by fundraising in her own way

Kolber fundraises annually for the Komen Race by sending personal letters to family and friends and engaging the community to collect donations. “I shake my can,” said the Monroe resident, who take her container door to door to ultimately help others. “I literally shake the can and my family laughs that I’m out there shaking my can. I was looking for a way to raise money because I wasn’t raising the amount I wanted to raise. You can write a million letters, but everyone is inundated with letters and charitable requests, so I decided I would shake the can.”

This philosophy of wanting to help others and have an impact of breast cancer is part of a national “More Than Pink” initiative that moves the fight against breast cancer from “awareness” to meaningful action. Wearing pink shirts is no longer good enough. Individuals who are making a difference and having an impact in the fight against the disease are fundraising and walking in the Komen Race for the Cure.

A generic coffee can wasn’t good enough for Kolber, who went to a paint store to get a larger can to decorate.

A self-starter, Kolber set a personal goal and began her fundraising journey at her local police department by filling out an application to solicit and selecting places to fundraise. After setting up a regular fundraising schedule, she started to collect money. “After four or five years, I’m still doing it in the same places,” she said. “You’d be surprised how much money you can raise in two and a half hours by saying ‘please help find a way to find a cure for breast cancer,’ and if they look like they’re ignoring me, I’ll say ‘any little bit will help.’

“When I shake the can there are people that give me $20 and there are people that give me $5,” she said. “Mostly I get a dollar from each person or I get change. It’s very nice to see there are people out there that are willing to give, even a dollar. For the average person, it doesn’t hurt them to give $1, but I also have people that see me every Sunday morning and give me a dollar every time they see me.”

In one recent two-hour session, she collected $183.30. “It might not sound like a lot, but who makes that kind of money in two hours?” she said. “Between my donations from friends and family and shaking my can, I’ve raised more than $3,000 so far this year. I have a goal set in my mind, and I’d like to reach that goal.”

Fundraising is important to Kolber because “every dollar raised is very important.”

Kolber has four children and 10 grandchildren with her husband of almost 61 years, Mitch.

Critical support for breast cancer screening and education

Funds raised at the Race and events throughout the year are distributed annually via grants based on the 2015 Community Profile Report that is generated locally every four years by the Affiliate.

Since the Affiliate was founded in 2005, it has funded 71,713 mammograms in Central and South Jersey and provided 259,495 individuals with breast cancer education. The other 25 percent of raised funds go toward national breast cancer research.

If full funding were in place, 22,543additional services would have been provided to patients throughout the Affiliate’s 13-county service area, including Middlesex County. This includes:

  • 21,240 women would have been educated about breast cancer and breast health
  • 28 free mammograms provided
  • 85 free diagnostic tests performed, including advanced mammograms and ultrasounds
  • 1,190 patients would have been provided with transportation assistance to mammogram appointments and educational events

There is still more screening and educating to do while research is being conducted for a cure. Each year, 7,000 New Jersey residents are diagnosed with breast cancer. The state has the fourth highest death rate from breast cancer in the United States with the seventh highest number of new cases.

Registration for the Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure on Nov. 6 at Six Flags Great Adventure is open. Register at www.komencsnj.org/race.

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About Susan G. Komen® Central and South Jersey
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. Through events like the Komen Central and South Jersey Race for the Cure®, Komen Central and South Jersey has funded 70,000 free mammography screenings, provided one-on-one education and support for over 250,000 community residents, invested over $17 million in community programs and provided $3.7 million to New Jersey breast cancer researchers. For more information, call 609-896-1201 or visit komencsnj.org.

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