WASHINGTON — The Susan G. Komen foundation is canceling its signature three-day walk in Washington, D.C., and six other cities, including Boston, next year, the organization announced.
People familiar with the decision-making said the drop in participation in Komen races and walks was a factor. The organization posted a note to members on its Facebook page, saying its three-day event would not be returning in 2014 to Arizona, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
The note said: ‘‘We are in the process of notifying all of the 3-Day family about plans for 2014, but wanted to share this news with you all here, too. The difficult decision to exit these markets was not made lightly, as we know this bold and empowering event has touched the lives of thousands of participants like you. While the 3-Day has brought great awareness to the breast cancer cause, participation levels over the last four years have made it difficult to sustain an event of this magnitude in 14 cities.’’
Komen will continue to host its three-day event in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Michigan, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, and the Twin Cities.
Participation has been down at Komen races around the country since its founder, Nancy Brinker, sparked national headlines in February 2012 when she unsuccessfully attempted to defund grants to Planned Parenthood.
On May 11, thousands of breast cancer survivors and their supporters gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C., for the annual Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure, but attendance at the charity’s signature fund-raising event was down for a second consecutive year.
About 21,000 people registered for that race, down from 27,000 last year and nearly 40,000 in 2011. Fund-raising has also been down: The race generated $5 million in donations in 2011, according to Komen spokeswoman Andrea Rader, but generated $2 million last year.
‘The difficult decision to exit these markets was not made lightly, as we know this bold and empowering event has touched the lives of thousands of participants like you.’
She said the downturn in donations and registration could be in small part because of a ‘‘hangover’’ from the Planned Parenthood flap. But there are more important factors, she said, including the continued poor economy and increased competition from other charity races.
But the biggest fund-raising tool for Komen has been the three-day events, which raise the most money but are the most expensive to organize, people familiar with the decision-making said. They are also the ones that attract the most dedicated supporters, many of whom also support Planned Parenthood and were among the most upset by the controversy, the people said.