Komen race registration has picked up but still lags

FORT WORTH -- After a slow start, registration for Komen's Race for the Cure Greater Fort Worth gained momentum in recent weeks, but organizers still expect about 20 percent fewer runners Saturday than last year.

As of Wednesday, 8,963 people were registered for the race, down from 11,454 at this point in 2011.

Local Susan G. Komen officials have acknowledged that the funding controversy between the national organization and Planned Parenthood this year was affecting race participation. But recent registration figures are an improvement since mid-March, when registration was down by almost half.

Jennifer Wersal, race and communications manager, said organizers are grateful that public support has grown.

"The community has responded and is coming out to support us and we really appreciate it," Wersal said. "Hopefully, we'll have a great day Saturday to help make an impact on breast cancer."

Though registration lagged in March, local officials said they know that some hard feelings remain over the national organization's decision but asked the public to focus on the positive impact the race has had on women's health for 19 years.

Since its creation, the Fort Worth affiliate said, it has made more than $17 million in grants to local nonprofits providing breast cancer screening, treatment and education for people lacking medical care.

Of money raised by Komen Greater Fort Worth, 75 percent supports annual grant programs in Tarrant, Parker, Johnson and Hood counties. The rest goes to the national headquarters for research grants.

At the current registration pace, the local branch will have nearly $200,000 less funding for community programs, officials say. That decrease is in addition to a 24 percent drop in confirmed donations compared with the same time last year.

Last year, 14,000 people participated in the race, which raised $1.3 million.

Organizers say they are keeping an eye on the weather Saturday; the forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of rain. Wersal said the latest forecast she heard was that storms were more likely to develop after the race.

Alex Branch, 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1