Park City • Despite below-freezing temperatures and a less-than-stellar snowpack, more than 500 snowshoers tramped through Round Valley Saturday morning to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research.
Like the Susan G. Komen’s popular Race for the Cure series in warmer months, participants were creative and generous in their use of pink, sporting pink wigs, feather boas, leis and cowboy hats.
“It’s one of my favorite colors,” said 9-year-old Destany Maack, of Draper, who was crowned winner of the Lil Romper Dash. She wore a pink-striped fleece and her dad wore a pink skirt with white polka dots over his black athletic pants.
“It’s funny how the boys wear pink, too,” Maack said.
Saturday’s Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer, hosted by Tubbs Snowshoes, was the first benefit for the Salt Lake City Komen affiliate since a national controversy rattled support for the well-known breast cancer charity. Earlier this month, many threatened to boycott the national Susan G. Komen for the Cure after it was revealed that the foundation had decided to stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. Critics believed anti-abortion politics motivated the decision, but Komen insisted it was because of a new rule that forbids giving grants to groups under investigation.
A few days later, the Komen foundation announced the rule would apply only to groups under criminal investigations — not political ones, such as the one launched into Planned Parenthood by a Florida congressman. Planned Parenthood will still receive existing Komen grants and be eligible for future funds.
“That was a relief,” Carla Owen, of Heber City, said Saturday. “I was afraid we weren’t going to be able to do this today. I felt I couldn’t support them if they were getting caught up in what appeared to be political pressure.”
Owen said she put her seven-member snowshoe team on hold until she learned that Komen reversed its decision.
“I just like being out here in the winter,” she said. “It just feels positive. It feels like you’re connected to something bigger and more powerful than yourself.”
Still, turnout was lower this year: 506 participants, down from 676 in 2011. Saturday’s event generated $22,571, compared with last year’s $32,433, although donations can still be made online through March.
Regardless, organizers chalked up the dampened turnout to poor snow conditions and a new venue farther from Salt Lake City. In past years, the romp was held at Mountain Dell Golf Course in Parleys Canyon.
“We’re not focusing on the national side. All of the funds from this are going to local affiliates. The local impact is strong,” said Graham Gephart of Tubbs Snowshoes, which is presenting Romp to Stomp events in nine cities this year. “That’s the real driving factor behind people coming out today.”
Maritza Shepherd, of Syracuse, said she was not aware of the dust-up over Planned Parenthood funding until she read on the Komen website that it had been resolved. Her 12-member team, the Prime Team Angels, generated Saturday’s biggest contribution to the Utah affiliate: $5,988. She and her co-workers have participated in the romp for nine years, initially inspired by the diagnosis of a colleague’s sister. On Saturday, they wore pink leis and sparkling pink crowns.
“It’s a fun event. Take it from me, I’m from the Caribbean and I really don’t do snow. But I love doing this every year,” said Shepherd, who is originally from Puerto Rico. “I’m walking for survivors. You think of the survivors, but you also think of the ones who have passed on. You walk for all of them — even the unknown.”
Debra Yamane, another of the “angels,” said she expects the event to keep going if organizers can “keep it fun.” Participants love the camaraderie and the festivity, she said. She thought turnout was low because people may not have been familiar with the new venue.
“If they can continue doing what they’re doing, it will continue being a success,” she said. “I know they moved the venue because they want to grow.”
Utah’s Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer
Participants • 506
Money raised • $22,571
Winner of the 3K snowshoe race • Peter Wood. Time: 19:44
Winner of the Lil Romper Dash • Destany Maack, age 9
Top fundraising team • Prime Team Angels, $5,988
More info • http://tubbsromptostomp.com