An event held for 10 years in downtown Auburn to raise money for breast cancer survivors will not see year 11 because of the fees and requirements stipulated by the city for such events, organizers said Thursday.
Stacey Petrosino said the RISE and Walk fundraiser for breast cancer will not be held this Sunday because of the fees charged by the city to use the Showmobile stage and to hang a banner over Genesee Street, and because a sponsor did not step forward to pay for the insurance required by Auburn for public events.
"It was a really heartbreaking decision for us to make," Petrosino said. "For 10 years, I've been getting up on the stage and saying 100 percent of the donations was going to survivors. I didn't want to have to get up there this year and tell people who had donated money from their hearts than not all of it was going to help survivors."
Petrosino, who founded RISE (Reaching and Inspiring Survivors Everywhere) in 2001 after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself, estimated the city's fees and requirements would cost about $1,000. A majority of that was for the required insurance.
She said for 10 years the organization hasn't been required to pay the fees.
Auburn City Manager Douglas Selby said the $200 per day fee to rent the Showmobile stage, plus $50 for the sound system, has been in place since 1992. To hang a banner downtown costs $45, a fee established in 2007.
Selby said in the past those fees were sometimes waived by other city managers, but Auburn's fiscal position now requires closer scrutiny of how employees are used.
"They may have been waived then, but because of our austerity programs that's pretty much been eliminated unless it's a city-sponsored function," he said. "If the stage is being used on the weekend, the $200 doesn't even cover the labor for overtime to set it up and take it down.
"There have been a few requests for waivers that have come to my attention, but they were denied. We have to start charging people so we can recover those costs."
Petrosino said that the fundraiser, which provided monetary assistance for breast cancer survivors, was a missing link in the survivor support network.
"Other organizations raise money for research and treatment," she said. "Those are wonderful programs, but our main goal was to raise money for the people."
She said even though there will not be a walk this year, she and a few of her "sister survivors" plan to release some pink balloons on Loop Road Sunday.
Petrosino said RISE will continue to hold its monthly support group meetings at the Auburn Holiday Inn on the last Wednesday of every month, and if another free venue can be found, the walk may resume next year.
"I'm old-fashioned, I still believe there are angels among us," she said. "We'll just have to find other avenues to raise money and look at other places to have our fundraiser."