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Katy’s Story: Honoring Mom’s Legacy Through Komen’s Pickleball for the Cure

Katy Garvey was in her senior year of college at the University of Virginia when she got the news that would shock her to her core. Her mom, a beloved educator and elementary school principal, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 52.

“She had just had a mammogram two weeks before that didn’t detect any evidence of cancer,” Katy said. “She found a lump under armpit, which prompted her to make an appointment to see her doctor.”

Katy’s mom, Georgia, passed away in 2003, less than a year after her diagnosis. The loss ignited a passion in Katy, not just for raising awareness but also for advocating for her own breast health. “A few years after she died, I made an appointment with a breast surgeon,” she said. “I went through genetic counseling and testing, and the results showed that I do not have a BRCA gene mutation. I’ve been able to establish a great plan of care, which includes additional screenings and appointments with my breast surgeon twice a year.”

In the years since her mom’s passing, Katy has supported the breast cancer community through various fundraising and awareness efforts, including donating care kits to patients at the infusion center where her mother received treatment. This year, she saw an opportunity to go above and beyond in her fundraising by organizing a Pickleball for the Cure fundraiser in her community.

“Pickleball became a passion of mine during the pandemic,” Katy said. “My friends and I decided to try it out, and I’ve just fallen in love with the sport. When I saw a post for Pickleball for the Cure on Facebook, I saw it as an opportunity to combine my love of pickleball with my passion for helping with breast cancer awareness and research.”

Participants who played in Katy Garvey’s Pickleball for the Cure tournament received event T-shirts and medals, which were funded through local sponsorships.

Katy opted to organize a tournament at her community tennis and pickleball courts and required a $25 donation per player to participate. She reached out to local businesses to help cover expenses through sponsorships and was able to provide participants with medals and T-shirts. She even got her kids involved.

“The summer camp they attend actually sponsored the medals for the winners,” she said. “And on the morning of the tournament, my daughter worked registration and my husband and son played as a team. We really made it a family-friendly event and had players of all different ages and skillsets.”

Katy’s Pickleball for the Cure fundraiser raised more than $1,300 to support Komen’s mission to create a world without breast cancer, and she hopes to grow the event in 2023. “We had really good feedback from the community, and it has been a great way to honor my mom’s legacy. I cannot wait to see what we can accomplish next year.”

Pickleball for the Cure is the nation’s first official fundraiser that offers players of all levels the opportunity to play the sport they love while raising funds to end breast cancer. To learn more, visit   

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.