Dara Leichter is not a breast cancer survivor but states, “I am a mother, sister, daughter and grandmother who wants to assist wherever I can to eradicate this disease that affects so many.” Dara has been an RN for almost 30 years, the last 17 of which have been devoted to women’s health. She became the first certified breast health educator for Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center in 2002, and was approached by Steve Royal, then Hospital Administrator, to assist with the application to bring a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Affiliate to Southwest Florida.
In her research, Dara was surprised to find that Komen for the Cure already had a strong presence in Southwest Florida through Rally for a Cure® and the BMW Ultimate Drive®. Although grateful this money was being raised, she was concerned that the money was leaving Southwest Florida. Because of her work on the community profile, she knew there was a tremendous need for funding for breast education, screening and treatment programs in Southwest Florida. One of the things that impressed Dara most about Komen was the fact that up to 75 percent of an Affiliate’s net income stays in the Affiliate’s service area to fund the needed local programs, and at least 25 percent goes to Komen headquarters to fund the cutting-edge research that is needed to find a cure for this disease.
The Affiliate was incorporated in November 2002 and Dara became the Affiliate’s first board president. Under her direction, the Affiliate has quickly grown and established a strong community presence. On October 22, 2005, the Affiliate will host its first fundraising event, a Pink Tie Ball®, with 90 percent of the expenses covered by local business sponsors. Dara’s dream to have a Komen Race for the Cure® in Southwest Florida is getting closer as the Affiliate is in the process of submitting their application for a March 2007 Race. Dara promises to begin training once the application is accepted so she can run the Race. We will all be cheering her on!