Meet Our Intern: Nicky Althoff

Guest Writer: Nicky Althoff, Komen Missouri Events and Fundraising Intern

My name is Nicky Althoff, and I am excited to be one of the newest members of the Komen Missouri team as an event planning and fundraising intern. I’m a freshman at WashU in St. Louis, currently undecided but most likely pursuing a major in political science. At WashU, I’m a member of pre-law society, Model United Nations, and the varsity track team. Originally from Roscoe, Illinois, which is right on the border of Wisconsin, I’ve loved familiarizing myself with St. Louis and all of its Midwestern glory, aside from maybe the baseball fans.

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Nicky Althoff, event planning and fundraising intern for Komen Missouri

I first encountered the internship with Komen Missouri in the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement’s WashU newsletter. It initially stuck out to me because Komen has been a household name in my family for many years: from cereal boxes to breast cancer apparel, the Komen logo is a common sight in the Althoff house. Aside from my familiarity with the Komen organization and mission, I was enticed by the opportunity to immerse myself in the St. Louis community by spreading Komen’s message and engaging the community in such a great cause.

As the cofounder and chairperson of a 5k benefitting breast cancer in my hometown, the internship with Komen Missouri seemed like the perfect extension of my prior experiences. It also seemed like the perfect opportunity to honor my mom, whom I lost to breast cancer in 2010. She was very involved in my local community’s breast cancer walk-a-thons and fundraisers and inspired me every day throughout her battle with her persistent smile and determination. Interning with Komen Missouri has been a great way to continue her fight against breast cancer, which truly is relevant to so many people.

As an event planning and fundraising intern, I get to see and help with all the behind-the-scenes planning of the signature Komen Missouri events like Trivia Night, the Komen Greater St. Louis Race for the Cure, and Dine Out for the Cure. I keep committee members for these events up-to-date and on-task and talk to sponsors and donors about contributing to our events. I often get to offer my opinion on matters such as how to engage more of the community and have even done some hands-on work redesigning the website.

From taking calls inquiring about mammograms to attending committee meetings, volunteering with Komen Missouri has kept me busy, but knowing that every data entry, phone call, and meeting is in some way contributing to the fight against breast cancer makes the internship the most rewarding experience I’ve had so far in St. Louis. I love working with the small but mighty Komen Missouri staff and I look forward to all of the events to come!

Meet Our Intern: Maddy Chung

Guest Writer: Maddy Chung, Komen Missouri Communications and Marketing Intern

My name is Maddy Chung, and I am the new Communications and Marketing Intern at Susan G. Komen Missouri! I am currently a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in American Culture Studies and minoring in Marketing and potentially Global Health. I am originally from San Francisco, and though I’m very far from the west coast, St. Louis is starting to feel like home.

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Maddy Chung, Communications & Marketing Intern for Komen Missouri

I have always had an interest in community service, social justice, and issues faced by my local community and beyond. My experience in marketing and communications is more recent, and I am looking forward to this internship because it will combine both of these interests. I am excited that this internship will allow me to engage with the St. Louis community in an impactful way, while giving me valuable experience and skills in marketing.

 

My interest in community service and social justice issues began in high school through my involvement with Breakthrough SF, an education nonprofit that provides extensive academic support to underserved middle school students. I was inspired by the incredible students and saw the unbelievable impact an organization like Breakthrough could have on their lives. Ever since then, I’ve known that I want to dedicate myself to some kind of organization that fights for an issue I care a lot about. Komen Missouri is just this – on my first day, I am already inspired by the work these women do, the energy and passion they put into it, and the impact it has on breast cancer research and the lives of so many Missouri women.

 

I wanted to try something a bit different this past summer, so I served as the Public Affairs Intern for Warriors Ground San Francisco, a community organizing branch of the Golden State Warriors. I was involved with the community organizing surrounding the new Warriors stadium, and I particularly enjoyed this role because I frequently went out into the community and talked to San Francisco residents about the project. I also wrote content for the Warriors Ground blog, did research, and got a taste of what managing an organization’s public presence is like. Through this experience, I developed an interest for communications and marketing, and as a result I declared Marketing as my minor.

 

In addition to social justice, community organizing, and marketing, health and related issues have piqued my interest last semester through a class called Global Health. Though I’m not all that familiar with breast cancer and its impact, I do know many people who are survivors or living with breast cancer today. I am looking forward to learning more about the disease through this internship, as well as contributing to the inspiring work going into finding cures.

 

Although I don’t know exactly what I want to do in life, I know that my experience interning here will help me grow both individually and as a young person considering a career path. I’m thankful to the team at Komen Missouri for this opportunity, and I’m so looking forward to see what the next months have in store here! 

Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure: An Intern’s Perspective

Guest Writer: Lexie Sprague, Komen St. Louis Public Relations & Marketing Intern

It’s May 18, 2015. I’m walking into the welcoming and friendly and entirely pink office that is going to be my second home for the summer. It is my first day as an intern at Komen St. Louis, so of course I am nervous beyond belief. Janet greets me as I walk in. “Hi, Lexie! It’s good to see you again. Come on back, we’re just having a staff meeting.” Oh no, I thought, a staff meeting? Was I supposed to prepare for this? As if I wasn’t nervous enough.

I walk into the back room to an intimidatingly full table, and then spot some mini donuts in the center of it. Okay, they like donuts, so they can’t be that scary. This might not be so bad. We start with introductions, and a small sense of relief washes over me as I realize I only have to remember six names. Helen, Janet, Bree, Kathy, Sandy, Shelby. I can do that. More relief as I realize how comforting it is to know Shelby is going to be interning with me, so maybe we could have some sort of intern-alliance, or maybe our office can be called Intern-Headquarters, or something fun like that. Helen begins to address us. Ooops, I interrupted my own daydream, better focus. “For the first month of your internship, we are going to be solely focused on Race for the Cure, because June 13th will be here before you know it…”

* * *

Lexie Sprague and Shelby Narike, Komen St. Louis Public Relations & Marketing interns, Summer 2015

Lexie Sprague and Shelby Narike, Komen St. Louis Public Relations & Marketing interns, Summer 2015

Fast forward two weeks, the Race is right around the corner, and the office is in full swing (to say the least). I see so many new faces as our awesome volunteers are in and out of the office all day. Gone were the days where Shelby and I didn’t know how to work the phones, use the copy machine, and hadn’t even heard of “Convio” (the database Komen uses) before.

The phone is ringing. “Komen St. Louis, this is Lexie, how may I help you?” I walk to the back room to try and find the answer to the question this caller has. Wow, so many boxes back here, I think, just in time for me to trip over one. When did that one get there?! I finish up with the phone call, and head back to my desk to return to the stack of registrations I was just entering. Crap, where did the one I was just holding in my hand go? Janet steps out of her office and says to Shelby and me, “We’re leaving for the KSDK window around 9:20! Bring your umbrella — it’s pouring out.” What? It’s already Wednesday again? How many days in a row have I worn this purple committee shirt? Should I wash it? I momentarily flash back to yesterday’s conversation when Shelby and I had asked what time to plan on arriving on Race day. Bree had told us, “well… we’ll get to watch the sunrise together!” What could that possibly mean? Oh shoot, no time to think about that now, there’s the phone again.

* * *

June 13. Helen was right; it got here before we knew it. Why is my alarm clock going off? Am I dreaming? It’s 4:00 am, and I’m rolling out of bed. A college student out of bed before the sun: now that’s a sight to see. My phone lights up indicating a text from Shelby, letting me know she’s here to pick me up. I walk out the front door of my apartment into the pitch black morning (is it morning yet?), my purple committee shirt nicely offset by my pink tutu. Ah, there’s Shelby’s car. We hit the road and my mind slowly becomes less fuzzy with each sip of the life-saving coffee provided by Shelby’s mom. We finally get the car parked and find our purple-shirted bosses, throw some pink chalk in our hair, and it’s go time.

Janet gives us our first task of the morning. Shelby and I are racing around the Race site (on a golf cart!), visiting each sponsor tent to make sure we can get samples of the Sponsors’ Square giveaways over to the KSDK truck for them to talk about on air. After this task was complete, we spent the next hour behind stage checking people in as they arrived for their respective stage assignments, looking around in amazement at the massive amounts of people. I momentarily got lost in my own thoughts. All of these people are here to add ammunition to the battle against breast cancer. How cool is that? Finally, the emcee announced that it was time for the survivor procession to begin.

Lexie and co-intern Shelby pink-ing their hair before dawn on Race day 2015

Lexie and co-intern Shelby pink-ing their hair before dawn on Race day 2015

I knew what the survivor procession would look like. Heck, there are pictures all over the office displaying that exact moment from previous years of the Race. But I quickly found out that I didn’t really know.

Front and center, leading this year’s survivor procession was Helen, our fearless executive director, walking hand in hand with Shelby, my ever-inspiring co-intern. This duo was the embodiment of what it means to say “breast cancer knows no boundaries.”

Following them was an absolute sea of pink. And as I stood there awestruck, I thought, this is them. Standing there watching the procession made me realize that these women, and their families, were exactly who Komen is working for. If the frenzy of work wasn’t put in each and every week, both locally and nationally, it’s a strong possibility that not all of those women would be walking in the 2015 procession. Each one of those ladies, dressed in pink, walking down the street to ‘We Are Family,’ found the strength to say “sorry cancer, you picked the wrong girl.” And having even a small, intern-level role in the lives of these women was more than enough to bring me to tears. That procession was the most moving and powerful moment I have seen in my twenty years.

The rest of the day was just as inspiring. Shelby and I found ourselves at the finish line, keeping track of winners, as well as hanging out with the Cardinals’ Wives to oversee that each breast cancer survivor got the pink rose they deserved upon crossing the finish line. Every second I spent on Race day was more than worth it, and I couldn’t believe when it was over and time to go home. I honestly thought I knew what it would be like to be so closely involved with Race for the Cure. But I realize now that I didn’t know the half of it.

That single morning changed my entire viewpoint of the weeks leading up to the Race. The phone calls we received were no longer just questions needing to be answered; each one was now one more person that was able to have an amazing experience on Race day. The forms all over the office were no longer simply registrations or donations; each one was now helping one more woman in need that will be able to go and get a mammogram. The daily whirlwind of activity around the office was no longer simply a flurry of activity; it was a group of absolutely inspiring individuals doing something about their unrelenting passion to end breast cancer forever.

I still find myself reflecting on the Race today. The day was nothing short of incredible and I know that I will be forever grateful to have had the chance to share it with everyone involved. I wholeheartedly hope it is known that whether you wore a purple committee shirt, blue volunteer shirt, or white participant shirt that day, you gave the survivors in pink the celebration that they deserved, and you are the reason that Komen is one step closer to its vision of a world without breast cancer.

* * *

Lexie is a junior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in marketing and psychology at the Olin Business School. She is part of the Goldman Fellows Program and is a member of the WUSTL Women’s Soccer team and Pi Beta Phi.

Stories of Local Impact: Komen St. Louis and Our Community

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Saving Lives Locally

With funding from Komen St. Louis, Christian Hospital’s Protecting and Healing Women program offers screening and diagnostic mammograms, patient navigation and breast health education for individuals in our community who otherwise may not have access.

Here’s a story that shows the direct impact of this funding and these services: http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/outreach/race-for-the-cure/2014/05/30/free-mammogram-christian-hospital-northwest-breast-cancer/9771681/

 

Fueling MoBap’s Mobile Mammography

Funding from Komen St. Louis helps support the Missouri Baptist mammography van, which offers mammograms to individuals throughout our community who otherwise may not be able to get screened for breast cancer.

Learn more and take a virtual tour of the mammography van:

http://www.ksdk.com/story/entertainment/television/show-me-st-louis/2014/05/19/missouri-baptist-mammography-van/9289361/

 

Helping Younger Women with Breast Cancer

Komen St. Louis funding helps support Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation’s START NOW Breast Cancer Awareness Services.

See how the program’s patient navigators are helping young women like Carla and Fany navigate their breast cancer journeys: http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/health/2014/05/23/start-now-breast-cancer-help/9513633/

 

Funding St. Louis Researchers’ Work on Breast Cancer Vaccine

Since 1999, Komen St. Louis has contributed more than $9 million to breast cancer research. At the same time, more than $20 million raised here and nationwide has come back to St. Louis research facilities.

That means more than 100 percent of the dollars raised here has remained in and returned to the St. Louis region.

Here’s a story about some exciting, Komen-funded research happening in St. Louis right now: http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/health/2014/06/06/komen-grants-race-cure/10102281/

We’re celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Connect with and follow Komen St. Louis and use the hashtag #bcjourney to join in the conversation.