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Buddy Check 10: Executive director reflects on Komen East TN's work

Amy Dunaway says she’s counting on East Tennessee groups to carry on Komen's mission.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When Amy Dunaway looks at pictures of Race for the Cure from over the years, the memories coming flooding back.

She’s been a constant at Komen East Tennessee for nearly two decades. Race for the Cure, a 5k race and walk, was one of its biggest annual events.

She’s rallied breast cancer survivors, thrivers and runners, educated the masses on breast cancer screenings and helped raise millions of dollars in an effort to save lives. It’s her passion, born from personal heartache.

“I got involved because of my mother-in-law,” said Dunaway.

Her mother-in-law, Vicki Dunaway, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. The beloved Powell High School principal died a year later.

Searching for a way to channel her grief, Dunaway walked through the doors of Komen East Tennessee as a volunteer.

“This was a way to fight back. I couldn’t take the chemotherapy, I couldn’t take the radiation but I could do something. I got involved because of her.“

Now, as executive director, Dunaway is wrapping up her work at Komen East Tennessee.

It will cease to exist at the end of March. Local Komen board members made the decision after a change at the national level would mean money raised in East Tennessee would not stay in the community.

“I wish that I would wake up April 1 and we’d start planning this year’s race for the cure. I hope the money that we have given back into our community continues to save lives.”

Dunaway says she’s counting on other East Tennessee groups to carry on that mission. Her parting message is a simple one.

“Please get your mammogram. Please get your mammogram.”

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