25 Years, 25 Milestones
A timeline of just a few significant dates in the Coalition’s history.
By Pat Battaglia
July 1997 – The Beginning
Thirteen breast cancer survivors met at the home of Sylvia Cappellino to begin formally organizing the Breast Cancer Coalition.
January 1998 – Up and Running
Having received their IRS Determination letter, they met for the first Board of Directors meeting as a newly incorporated nonprofit organization.
May 1998 – On the Road
A group of five Coalition advocates traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the NBCC* National Advocacy and Training Conference, which has since been re-named the Advocate Leadership Summit. Coalition advocates have made this a priority in subsequent years.
June 2000 – Our First Home
Finding a P.O. Box and answering machine in a member’s home insufficient, the emerging group opened their first office at 200 Park Avenue, in the heart of Rochester.
October 2001 – New Leadership
In the challenging aftermath of 9/11, Holly Anderson began her tenure as our Executive Director. She had taken an active leadership role at the Coalition after her breast cancer diagnosis in 1999, and is still at the helm today.
May 2002 – Heart and Sole
The first annual walk and run was held on Mother’s Day in the pouring rain at St. John Fisher College. At first called Heart and Sole, the event was re-named the Pink Ribbon Walk and Run in 2004. It is a signature event for the Coalition that has continued to evolve through the years.
September 2002 – Another New Home
To accommodate developing services and programs, we moved into a more spacious location just a mile away at 840 University Avenue.
Spring 2003 – Funding Research
Our Breast Cancer Research Initiative awarded its first $25K grant to Mesut Muyan, PhD, a University of Rochester researcher.
September 2003 – A Survivor/Legislator’s Legacy
The first annual Terri Schmitt Legislative Reception was held and continues annually in memory of this early Coalition Director. Terri saw the importance of collaborating with legislators on matters that make a difference for cancer survivors, laying a strong foundation for our Advocacy Committee.
March 2004 – Addressing Metastatic Disease
The first annual Cindy Dertinger Advanced Breast Cancer Seminar: Tools for the Journey was held. Cindy, a cherished member of the Coalition’s survivor community, died of metastatic breast cancer in 2003. In collaboration with her employer, M&T Bank, this seminar continues to be offered every year.
March 2005 – A Landmark Victory for Coalition Advocates
Coalition Advocates were successful in the passage of the 48-hour Neighbor Notification Law in Monroe County, which requires prior written notification to the owners of adjacent properties before commercially sprayed pesticide applications.
May 2005 – Yoga
A pilot program of yoga classes for breast cancer survivors held at the Coalition quickly became one of our regular program offerings due to its popularity.
Spring 2006 – Young Survivors Gather
The first networking group for young breast cancer survivors began meeting at the Coalition. This group morphed into the quarterly Young Survivor Gatherings, which were initiated in 2008.
November 2008 – Peer Support Takes a Step Forward
The Peer Advocates Lending Support (PALS) Program, originally an informal program, became firmly established when the first training session for peer mentors was held. These trainings occur annually, resulting in around 200 PALS matches a year.
January 2009 – Our Advisory Council is Formed
The Coalition leadership and staff saw the need to collaborate with community experts who possess specific knowledge and skills. These treasured partnerships have been invaluable to us through the years.
January 2011 – Healing Arts
The demand for our yoga classes grew to the point where additional evidence-based movement programs were offered such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Reiki, Feldenkreis, Pilates, Fluid Motion, and Mindfulness.
Winter 2011-2012 – Addressing Disparities
After proposing the addition of a mammography unit to the Anthony Jordan Health Center, the Coalition made a significant financial contribution toward the installation of this unit located in a city neighborhood where access to screening is limited.
January 2014 – Welcome New Friends: Gynecologic Cancer Survivors
After holding a series of focus groups that identified a strong need for support among gynecologic cancer survivors, the Coalition opened its support programs to those facing this group of cancers. They have become cherished members of our survivor community.
June 2014 – Enacting Medical Marijuana
Coalition advocates were instrumental in the passage of New York’s medical marijuana bill. This law allowed cancer survivors access to a botanical remedy to alleviate the effects of their disease and/or treatment, and paved the way for further legislation.
January 2016 – Another Move
When it became clear that a location with off-street parking would benefit our survivor community, we moved two blocks to our current home at 1048 University Avenue.
January 2016 – Reaching Out to a Wider Region
After conducting a series of roundtable discussions with survivors throughout Central and Western New York, we extended our reach into the nine-county region surrounding Monroe County. Today, we serve 27 counties.
October 2018 – Ethics Matter
We were honored to be selected as the recipient of the 2018 Ethies Award by the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation (now Elevate Rochester). We are proud of our high ethical standards and strive to build on that strong foundation in all we do.
March 2020 – COVID Shutdown
When Covid-19 struck, the Coalition remained open. Staff quickly pivoted programs and services to virtual platforms. They were inventive, flexible, and compassionate in ensuring that survivors would have access to our programs without interruption.
July 2022 – $1 Million Awarded to Research
With the awarding of a $25,000 grant to a Cornell post-graduate student, the Coalition surpassed $1 million dollars in the provision of funding to regional researchers since the program’s inception.
May 2023 – Pink and Teal Intertwine
This year, the re-imagined walk and run combines the pink ribbon of breast cancer with the teal ribbon of gynecologic cancers, and introduces a brand-new name: The Pink and Teal Challenge! We hope to see you there!