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Safeway Inc. raised $14.5 million in October for breast cancer research, bringing the total for the past 11 years to more than $108 million.
"We continue to be humbled by the generosity of our customers and the commitment our employees have for the cause," said Larree Renda, EVP of Safeway and chair of the Safeway Foundation. "This kind of fundraising outcome will have a real and measurable impact on the science of finding a cure."
During the last 11 years, Safeway and its nearly 1,700 stores -- including Vons, Pavilions, Dominick's, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Genuardi's, Carrs and Pak 'N Save -- have raised money for the cause. The largest share of the funds are dedicated to a range of ambitious research projects at some of North America's top cancer centers, as well as early detection and other programs that elevate the level of care patients receive.
"We are so grateful to Safeway for its leadership and vision, and to the company's customers for every dollar they donate," said Laura Esserman, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Radiology, and Director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the University of California, San Francisco. "Safeway is providing the critical resources to build systems to revolutionize breast cancer care."
UCSF's Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center is one of the recipients of the Safeway Breast Cancer Awareness campaign funds. Safeway and UCSF joined forces to launch BreastCancerTrials.org, the only online clinical trial-matching service dedicated exclusively to breast cancer in the U.S. The site provides a matching service that enables patients to find trials personalized to their situations. It currently includes patient-friendly trial information for over 500 trials underway at more than 1,500 medical facilities across the country. Since its launch in 2008, thousands of women have been able to search for breast cancer clinical trials at BreastCancerTrials.org.
In addition to this nationwide outreach, funds raised by Safeway have made the following research advances possible:
More than 150,000 women will participate in the Safeway-funded Athena Breast Health Network, collaboration between the five University of California medical centers, the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies, and the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Athena's goal is to revolutionize the course of care by designing and implementing new approaches to research, technology and health care delivery. Participants will be monitored for years to come.
The I-SPY 2 TRIAL, a breast cancer research project managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Biomarker Consortium, is changing the paradigm for the development of new breast cancer drugs. Today, most breast cancer drugs work for only 30-50 percent of the patients for whom they are prescribed, and developing each drug typically takes many years, involves thousands of patients and costs well over $1 billion. Unlike other trials, I-SPY 2 uses molecular biomarkers to target new cancer drugs to the right patients, significantly improving the chances that a woman will get not just any drug, but one that is the best match -- the most likely to treat her disease. This unique trial design also makes it possible to test these new drugs in fewer patients and get faster results, shaving years and millions of dollars off the drug development process. The Safeway Foundation has provided significant funding for I-SPY 2, which is supported by the Biomarkers Consortium, a unique public-private partnership involving the National Institutes of Health (NIH), FDA, multiple pharmaceutical companies, and major cancer centers.
To raise the money that makes this sort of research possible, stores provide customers with an opportunity to donate at each checkstand, and hold special in-store fundraising events to rally the support. For example, stores will enlist local celebrities, elected officials, and representatives from top cancer research centers to act as celebrity grocer baggers and collect donations. Other stores hold drawings, contests and sell special "pink ribbon" breast cancer items.
In addition to in-store fundraising, Safeway sponsors community events that raise awareness and bring critical services to people in underserved areas. The company continues to partner with hospitals and cancer centers to finance mobile mammography units in various areas throughout the country. Grants from the annual Breast Cancer Awareness campaign help keep six such state-of-the-art mobile breast cancer screening centers on the road. These mobile units are deployed to underserved communities that would otherwise lack access to screening.
The units are operated in partnership with the Nevada Health Centers Inc; St. Joseph's Medical Center in Stockton, California; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Washington State; the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; Providence Alaska Medical Center; Exempla-St. Joseph's Hospital of Denver, Colorado; George Washington University Hospital of Washington, D.C. and The Rose Foundation of Houston, Texas.
Safeway's Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser is the second of two annual cancer campaigns. Each June The Safeway Foundation raises money to fight prostate cancer, one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in men. To date, the company has raised nearly $184 million for cancer causes. However, cancer research is just one of the many important causes the company supports each year. Safeway contributes to a broad range of charitable and community programs and in 2010 donated more than $200 million to education, hunger relief, health and human services and programs focused on assisting people with disabilities.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway operates 1,694 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $41.1 billion in 2010.