(Photo by Don Kadair)
Senior director of development, LSU Foundation
Losing her aunt to breast cancer seven years ago propelled Krista Allen, senior director of development at the LSU Foundation, into a key role of planning the annual Komen Baton Rouge Race for the Cure.
“She fought very courageously for four years,” says Allen, who notes her aunt, Deb Petrie, had no family history of breast cancer. “She was one of my best friends. I was looking for a way to honor her and keep her memory alive.”
Allen sent an email to the Susan G. Komen organization’s national office, and she was connected to the local affiliate in Baton Rouge, which encouraged her to volunteer during its Race for the Cure. The first year, Allen was stationed at the end of the race, where she watched breast cancer survivors cross the finish line with their families.
As a volunteer the following year, Allen was involved with race operations, doing everything from setting out tents and tables to making sure people in booths had extension cords.
“It was all the logistics that go into the venue—really the dirty work,” Allen says.
In her third year of volunteering, Allen served as co-chair of the event. Then, at the age of 26, she chaired the race alone for the first time. Allen was part of a three-person senior leadership team that planned the 2016 Race for the Cure, which was held March 5 at LSU.
“For me, it’s my one day a year when I get to know we are remembering those who have lost their battles,” Allen says. “I’ve also gotten to know many still with us.”
The annual event provides an opportunity for women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer to feel the love and support from other women who have been down the same road, Allen says.
“People should know they’re not walking alone in the fight,” she says.
Allen says it’s also important to provide a race that attracts elite runners who want a great course. Every logistic issue must be taken into account, from the massive oak tree roots near the race course to providing easy access to dorms and sorority houses for students living on campus.
“We are the largest fitness race in Baton Rouge,” Allen says. “We want to provide an environment for every person there to get to celebrate or honor the life of a loved one who has battled this disease.”
More than 75% of grant funds that Komen Baton Rouge awards to local agencies are raised through the race, Allen says.
“I know the money is helping local women,” she says. “It’s really special when people tell me, ‘My aunt used that service,’ or ‘My mom used that service.’ It’s my way to say, ‘Aunt Deb, we didn’t forget you. Your battle was not in vain.’”
For more information, visit komenbatonrouge.org. Volunteers are always needed, and more information is available through the local affiliate.
—Emily Kern Hebert