After discovering she had breast cancer with a mammogram in 2005, at the age of 50, Trumbull resident, Debbie Kellner was terrified. At that moment, she made the decision to beat the disease and make the most of every day.

“I had never been more scared in my life, yet more determined to win this battle,” Kellner said. “I found an inner strength I didn’t know I had, and from this experience learned to value and cherish life even more. I am one of the lucky ones. I can't believe it, but it's been almost eight years.”

While undergoing treatment and living her life with breast cancer, Kellner found that she was most changed by the outpouring of support from friends, family and loved ones. She is particularly thankful for the support of her best friend Donna, of Shelton, also a cancer survivor, who was by her side throughout the entire experience.

“Donna and I always found a reason to laugh together,” she said. “This experience enhanced my compassion and ability to reach out to others. I want to provide the same support to those facing medical challenges that helped me overcome my battle.”

It is this compassion and her desire to educate other women about early detection that inspired her to get involved with Komen Connecticut. Kellner and her friend, Donna are some of the local faces being featured in Komen Connecticut’s 2013 Westport Race for the Cure campaign.

“Komen Connecticut has so much to offer for those who need help — be it a patient, family or caregiver,” Kellner said. “I support the mission of finding a cure for breast cancer and love that we are bringing people together at the Race to raise money for local programs and research. Most importantly, Komen Connecticut reminds women that they are not alone.”

For each of the past three years, Komen Connecticut has funded over $1 million in community grants to local organizations providing life-saving services for women in need across our state (including CancerCare in Norwalk, Bridgeport Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, Stamford Hospital and St. Vincent's Hospital, among others). Seventy-five percent of Komen Connecticut’s net proceeds support local breast health programs across Connecticut and the remaining twenty five percent is invested in research to find the causes and cures for the disease.

Although the organization invests in breast cancer programs across the state, much of its fundraising has historically taken place in Greater Hartford, a fact that will change with the introduction of the 2013 Westport Race for the Cure on May 11 at Sherwood Island State Park.

“The Westport Race is an exciting next step for our organization,” said Anne Morris, CEO of Komen Connecticut. “We are proud of the statewide impact of our community grants, and are thrilled to have a greater presence in Fairfield County. We need the support of the local community to help us continue investing in cutting-edge research and local breast cancer programs for Connecticut women and their families.”

It is not too late to get involved in supporting the Westport Race for the Cure. For additional information and to register, visit www.KomenCT.org or call 860-321-7806.