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Leading the Charge

It happens every October. Across the country, pink ribbons are prominently displayed, survivors gather in support of one another and millions of dollars are raised all in the name of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And while there is considerable momentum built up during these 31 days on the calendar, the truth of the matter is the battle against the disease is very much a year-round fight. 

Perhaps no one understands this better than the folks at the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (FBCF), a statewide organization that advocates at the legislative level in both Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.; educates our communities about reducing their risk for the disease; and funds numerous nonprofits, pilot programs and scientific research. What started out as a nonprofit founded by three women in Miami back in 1993 has grown exponentially and continues to be ranked as the No. 1 breast cancer organization in the nation by Charity Navigator. 

Now, as FBCF gears up to celebrate its 30th anniversary next January, President and CEO Tracy Jacim says the organization continues to thrive.

“This past year, we are so grateful to say we received our highest amount of donations in all of our existence. I attribute that to people now knowing about the great work this foundation does,” she says.

Thanks to the record amount of money raised and an expansion of its direct-service programs, FBCF will be granting $400,000 to help fund several programs, including those that help cover living expenses, mammograms and other medical needs. What’s more, it will also provide $800,000 for scientific research programs and at least another $150,000 in education grants. 

FBCF also plans to host over 100 events in the coming year, including serving as the title sponsor for October’s Race 2 Cure at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford. It will also be working closely with several other key partners like Ed Morse Automotive Group and Pickups for Breast Cancer to further spread the word about their mission. And the sale of each one of its End Breast Cancer license plates generates $25: Since the license plate program started 20 years ago, FBCF has awarded nearly $10 million to Florida institutions and nonprofits.

“To know that we have been serving men and women in the state of Florida for 30 years is something we are not only proud of, but it also motivates us and inspires us to reach even more people,” says Jacim. “[But] even though all this growth has taken place, we have never wandered far from our beliefs in the power of the grassroots effort. Every single day, we still operate with a great passion, believing that even if we help just one person that day, we’ve made a huge impact.”

And that impact has been noticeable in communities across the state because all of the money being generated stays in Florida, helping FBCF stand apart from other organizations. 

“When people make a donation, they want to feel confident and certain that their money is being put to good use and they can see an impact. [With us], you can literally see the changes happening in your neighborhood,” says Jacim.

Despite all the strides being made by FBCF, there is still much about the disease that people don’t realize. For instance, Jacim points out, there are plenty of men who get diagnosed with breast cancer. But perhaps the statistic most are surprised to learn is that 90% of breast cancer cases are not hereditary, but rather caused by environmental factors.

That makes the educational component of FBCF’s work that much more critical, and so the organization has especially focused on reaching a younger demographic by engaging colleges, high schools and some elementary schools. Jacim says that increased knowledge about early detection along with trailblazing research and new treatment options has provided “tangible hope.”

“The medical advancements that have taken place over the last decade are amazing. If you are diagnosed early, your chances are so good [for recovery]. It’s so much different than it was years ago. That’s why the funding for research is so important,” she says.

Jacim is also a big believer in strength in numbers. And whether she’s thinking of the numerous survivors she’s encountered while working with FBCF or her own personal family members who have been afflicted with breast cancer, she finds inspiration in their journeys.

“When you hear their stories, you get a clearer sense of what the word ‘survivor’ really encompasses. It’s not just the victory, it’s the process,” she says. “We’ve had so many of those folks come to us and use their experience to help others, and that right there is really what drives the engine of this organization. These survivors are not only inspiring, but in a sense they are leading the way in the fight.”


Florida Breast Cancer Foundation

South Florida office: 11900 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 288, North Miami | (305) 631-2134

Central Florida office: 1755 Oviedo Mall Blvd., Oviedo | (321) 972-5534