The Komen Race for the Cure is the largest series of 5K fun run/walks in the nation. Its goals are to increase awareness about breast cancer and raise funds for programs to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.  With more than 100 cities organizing individual Races for the Cure, the Denver Race is the largest local Komen Race for the Cure in the nation.  Since it began in 1993, the Denver Race has grown 1200 percent - from 3,500 participants to 42,841 in 1999.


How can such phenomenal growth be sustained, while keeping expenses to less than 25% (nationally mandated) of the budget? How do you keep the event fresh and build upon past successes? How do you increase the monies raised and the number of participants without alienating some participants?  Since the event is primarily female-oriented how do you increase the percentage of male involvement? And finally, how do you compete with the Summer Olympics?  This year, the Summer Olympics fell during the two weeks prior to the Race.  All of our media sponsors were covering the Olympics.  Our major television sponsor, an NBC affiliate, was required by NBC to carry a certain number of hours of Olympic coverage.


Create a public relations campaign that:

  • Generates at least 50,000 participants on Race Day, 2000
  • Educates the public about the issue of breast cancer and communicates to men, women and children that breast cancer affects every one and this event and their involvement could help cure breast cancer
  • Conveys simply and succinctly what the Race is about
  • Increase funds raised by 15% 1999


  • Men, women and children
  • Families
  • Businesses and their employees – to increase the number of corporate Teams and monies raised through corporate sponsorships
  • The Colorado print and broadcast media


This was the eighth year the event was held in Denver. In order to generate new excitement for the event, while building on the existing awareness of breast cancer, the volunteer communications committee designed a creative strategy that evolved around the theme:  The Cure for Breast Cancer is in Your Feet.  The event name and tagline were prominently featured in all promotional materials and give-away items, including:

Save-the-date postcards:  35,000 mailed to participating Race households.

T-shirts:  50,000 created for Race participants, which read “The Cure for Breast Cancer is in My Feet”.

Registration brochures:  225,000 distributed to previous participants; through area grocery chains, health clubs, hospitals, medical centers, and registration locations.

Posters:  5,000 4-color posters posted throughout the metro area at area grocery stores, coffee shops, registration locations, health clubs, hospitals and medical centers.

Presenting Media Sponsors --  media sponsors consisted of The Denver Post, 9NEWS, ClearChannel Radio, and 5280 magazine.  They provided the Race with advertising and editorial opportunities at no charge

Newsprint Sponsor -- The Denver Post.  The contract included more than 750” of advertising and a 40-page special advertising section.  The advertising consisted of 4-color, full-page, and 4 column x 14” advertisements, which began 4 weeks out from the event.  The 40-page supplement was written by the communications committee and designed by the Denver Post appeared in the Sunday issue of the Denver Post two weeks prior to the Race.  It included articles on the history of the Race, how to register, why get involved, and articles on breast cancer survivors.  Its goal was to motivate readers to sign up for the event and educate them about breast cancer.

Television Sponsor – 9NEWS.  The station provided more than $90,000 worth of promotional spots/air-time and each on-air female (13) developed a story to air beginning four weeks prior to the Race.  In addition, the station developed and aired a ½-hour show on the Race and breast cancer, which aired two weeks after the Race.  In order to maximize the Race’s exposure and take care of the issue of the Olympics, 9NEWS began coverage four weeks out from the Race.  It also emphasized Race coverage on its early morning programs, as well as during Olympic highlights and cut-ins.

Radio Sponsor --  ClearChannel Radio.  With a combination of 8 AM and FM stations, ClearChannel dominates Denver’s radio market.  By soliciting involvement from all of these stations for both promotional and editorial time, the Race maximized communicating its message to the public.  The contract included more than $400,000 in promotional air-time.  In addition, a 10-part series titled “Men and Breast Cancer” was developed for KOA (male-oriented sports/talk format); a 3-hour live broadcast on KHOW (female-oriented talk format) the Day of the Race; several interviews of breast cancer survivors on KHOW’s live talk shows; and multiple news stories on breast cancer and the Race for the Cure during news programming. All editorial topics were provided by the Race’s PR Committee.

Magazine Sponsor – 5280 Magazine.  5280 included 1/3 page consecutive page advertisement in its August/September issue and the Race program in its October issue.  The Race Program was written, concepted and developed by the communications committee and included information on breast cancer, the newest information on research, local survivor stories, and information on the Race and Race Day. The Program was designed by 5280 Magazine.  40,000 programs were distributed to Race participants when they registered.

Children’s Poster Art Campaign  The campaign solicited artwork from 75 schools.  Eighteen finalists were selected. We developed trayliners and McDonald’s then printed and distributed 300,000 of them to its stores 2 weeks prior to the Race. The art was incorporated into the Race registration form.  Articles were also pitched regarding the winner of the contest – a leukemia survivor.

Pro Bono advertising  --  negotiated free advertising with non-mainstream/community newspapers, magazines, billboards and bus shelter signage companies.

Media relations – targeted specific reporters in radio, television and newsprint and tailored each story to each reporter.  In addition, developed relationships with community newspapers where they accepted and published by-lined articles about the Race.  The articles related specifically to their target audiences  (i.e. highlight African-Americans with breast cancer for the Urban Spectrum, Kids art contest winner for Colorado Parent Magazine, and Colorado Kids, and women and cancer for Colorado Woman News).


Based upon registration numbers, a total of 55,476 participated in the 2000 Race (an increase of 29 percent)

Increased monies raised by 24 percent (a net of $1.7 million in 1999 to a net of $2.1 million in 2000)

Expenses were at 19 percent of revenue (including police, trash pick-up, etc.)

Increased percentage of men participating by 5%

Increased number of people on Teams from 14,000 to 18,000
Increased advertising and visibility by 83 percent.  Advertising contracts increased by $800,000