On Sunday, the Maurer Foundation will host its Pink Bowl at Bowlmor Lanes in Melville. As teams compete, their dollars will help to advance the foundation's mission to educate women and men to prevent breast cancer or catch it in its early stages, said executive director Susan Samaroo.
The organization, founded 20 years ago by breast surgeon Virginia Maurer, gets 95 percent of its money from private fundraising, said Samaroo. "We try to be creative and reach different types of people, different demographics, different interests." A May golf outing, October gala, August motorcycle ride and sales of pink and white cookies -- often sold by students -- also help raise funds.
Samaroo, 46, joined the foundation a year ago after spending 23 years at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, most recently as its chief operating officer. Born in Guyana, she moved to Connecticut at 9, and won a full academic scholarship to New York University.
How does your corporate wellness program work?
We do an interactive PowerPoint presentation. We have silicone breast models for each participant to learn how to do a proper breast self-exam, actually embedded with lumps -- different shapes and different sizes of lumps -- so that you can actually feel one. And we [give] information about how people can reduce their chances of developing breast cancer.
You say your programs help businesses reduce expenses related to medical care, health insurance and lost worker productivity. How?
We are trying to get women to find a lump early, or to help them to not develop that lump by making healthy choices. If she is in stage 3 and has to get a mastectomy and then go through chemo, that's an extensive period of time to be out of work and an incredible cost, not to mention the emotional and mental wear on the individual and how much time it takes to recover from all of that. If it's found earlier on, she could opt to do a lumpectomy instead . . . And the recovery on that is shorter.
What do you do to get younger professionals involved?
For our golf outing coming up May 7 we have formed a young professionals committee, and I think it's a great way to get young people from the corporate world involved, to give back, and to help make them feel a part of the community.
Tell me about the Pink Bowl.
This year, we have a Battle of the Banks component . . . a friendly competition to see which bank can raise the most money and who can bowl the best. Companies can create their own T-shirts with team names. Dr. Maurer's team is the Gutter Girls.
Can you share a success story?
I had a woman who spoke at our gala in October who thanked us for saving her life. She said, 'I went to the class, and I started doing [self-exams].' The second month she did it, [she found] a lump that was cancerous. I hear that type of anecdotal information on a regular basis . . . That we are helping to save lives is truly phenomenal.
NAME: Susan Samaroo, executive director, The Maurer Foundation in Hauppauge
WHAT IT DOES: Breast cancer education for prevention and early detection through workshops, health fairs and programs in high schools
EMPLOYEES: 3 full time, 6 part time