Susan G. Komen for the Cure is canceling half of its three-day charity walks next year because of a drop in participation levels, a spokeswoman for the Dallas-based breast cancer organization said Wednesday.
The announcement comes about a year and a half after Komen experienced intense backlash after news became public of its decision to stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood for breast screenings. The funding was restored days later, though it didn't quell the controversy.
Komen said its Susan G. Komen 3-Day will not return next year to Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C. Seven other such walks will still be held next year in Atlanta, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Detroit area, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Participation in the three-day events has declined 37 percent over the last four years, according to the group. Participants must raise at least $2,300 to walk 60 miles over three days, and due to the amount of money that must be raised, 60 percent of participants only take part in the event once, Komen spokeswoman Andrea Rader said.
Rader said the decline came in the wake of the economic downturn, but noted that the drop was "a little more dramatic" last year following the Planned Parenthood controversy in late January. She declined to give specific figures for each year, but said other contributing factors for the last year were the economy and competition from other events.
She said the "vast majority" of people have moved on from the controversy.
"There are some folks who will never be back and we know that, and we hope that they will support breast cancer charities because the work's important," she said.
Komen said no other events are being cut back. Among them are about 140 Races for the Cure events each year.
Rader said that while last year, as a "general rule," the organization saw a participation dip in Race for the Cure events, it noticed more people started coming back toward the end of the year.
She also noted that in the 10 years the three-day events have been held, they have "gone in and out of cities before." She said the group hopes to eventually return to the cities where the three-day events were canceled.
"When you have an event like this you're always checking to make sure it's raising the right amount of money and participation levels are good," Rader said.