Coffee for the Cure

Apr 9, 2009
Melissa Pugash is a strategic marketing communications consultant based in Los Angeles. She has over 20 years experience in the specialty coffee industry and has worked with BUNN to expand its US and international public relations and marketing.

It was an overcast and dreary morning in Pasadena on Sunday, March 15, 2009. There was a light mist in the chilly air as thousands of women and men gathered around the Rose Bowl for the 13th Annual Susan G. Komen, Race for the Cure. It was the kind of weather that made you want to stay under the comforter and hit the snooze button on the alarm clock. But the opportunity to be part of this extraordinary fundraiser along with the promise of a hot cup of Joe to warm the heart and soul, were great incentives for volunteers from throughout Southern California to rise and shine before 7:00 am.

The brewing experts, including Hugo Flores and his crew from Gavia Gourmet Coffee awoke several hours earlier to make sure there was plenty of steaming hot coffee for the race volunteers, event coordinators and other sponsors. As soon as the signs were on the booth, coffee-lovers formed a line for complimentary cups of Don Franciscos blend. An estimated total of 12,000 walkers and runners including 162 registered volunteers from Gavias Team Don Francsicos gathered in front of the stadium to honor breast cancer survivors, give encouragement to those under treatment and remember loved-ones who lost the battle.

Breast cancer strikes 1 in 8 women (and approximately 2000 American men each year). But thanks to annual Races for the Cure held in communities throughout the United States, as well as the Susan G. Komen foundations other fundraising efforts, new diagnostic tools, early detection and new treatments are saving more and more lives. To date, the nonprofit organization has dedicated 1.3 billion dollars to the fight for the cure, and is responsible for funding medical breakthroughs as well as providing much needed educational and support services to patients throughout the U.S. and around the world.

There were tears of joy and sadness as the Celebration of Life Survivor Ceremony began. Fueled by a strong dedication to the cause and delicious hot coffee, the crowd started to chant End Breast Cancer Now in a show of solidarity. The sea of bright pink hats and tee-shirts was an awesome and inspiring sight. After songs by Taylor Hicks and Melissa Manchester the 5k run began and a procession of walkers followed them to the finish line. Despite the clouds, it was a glorious day.

Id like to extend special thanks to Leonor-Gavia-Valls and Anna Valls for inviting me to be a member of Team Don Franciscos, Wendy Martinez and Leonor Matos for coordinating all of the paperwork and registration details and to my friends and family for contributing to the 2009 Race for the Cure.

For information about Races for the Cure in your community or to find out more about the many valuable resources provided by the Komen foundation, please visit


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