Kathleen Walker is the key to success behind the Komen West Virginia Affiliate. Having served as founding member and president for the first six years of the chapter’s existence, nearly every member of the Affiliate can trace their initial involvement with Komen to Kathleen. Her tireless “never say no” attitude and commitment to making a difference has drawn friends, coworkers and acquaintances into the Komen effort. Anyone who meets Kathleen quickly learns of her work with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and her dedication to increasing breast cancer awareness and getting services and support for those who may otherwise not receive them.
Kathleen’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer over ten years ago. Her father had also been diagnosed with lymphoma. She found her role changing from simply being a loving daughter to serving as the primary communication agent for her parents and representative for the family in ensuring that her mother received needed treatment and support. As Kathleen accompanied her mother to medical appointments and treatment sessions, her knowledge and understanding about the disease grew. She, in turn, helped her parents and family become better educated about the disease and the options available to them. Through this experience, Kathleen realized that, unlike her mother, many people did not have someone to help them process all of the new information or to maneuver through all of the steps. Many were left to do this on their own. This experience opened up a whole new world to Kathleen. She was determined to find a way to help others.
Kathleen and her husband David learned of the Komen Race for the Cure® and immediately set out to find out how they could make the event a reality in Charleston, West Virginia. Her husband served as chairperson for the firstWest Virginia Race for the Cure. Needless to say, it was a success—the first of many successes in which Kathleen has been involved. Since then, she and her family have continued to play key roles in the annual Race for the Cure, and Kathleen has been instrumental in starting many other educational and fundraising projects with the focus always on helping others.
In West Virginia, Kathleen has become known as the “Komen Lady.” Although her term as a board member has ended, she remains actively involved in the cause. Kathleen says that she realizes that she has been blessed, and being true to this, follows her motto: “Never let an opportunity pass you by to give back.”