(UPDATED 8:01 PM with information about 2011 personal-expenses benefit)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Puget Sound Susan G. Komen Foundation says it is confident that all the money raised for its breast-cancer-fighting efforts in the name of West Seattleite Tracy Dart and her local associates went to the foundation.
We inquired with Komen today after receiving numerous inquiries over the weekend about this report by the West Seattle Herald quoting an unidentified source as saying Dart may have fabricated some part or all of her reported three-time, seven-plus-year cancer fight.
Senior public-relations manager Christi Ball Loso told WSB via e-mail:
Komen was notified of the situation last week and has been in contact with Tracy’s family. We have not been contacted by law enforcement.
Our records show that Tracy personally raised $28,541 for Komen starting in 2006, and that her Seattle and California teams raised more than $414,000 since 2006. This money has been used as intended – for Komen’s research and community health programs. And, we can assure the community that Tracy did not receive any funds from Komen. The organizations that receive Komen funding go through significant vetting to assess their program impact.
The biggest question people asked us: Is the fabrication allegation true?
As we told those who contacted us in various messaging channels this weekend, that question so far has not been answered on the record by anyone. But today, the Komen Foundation discussed the fundraising questions on the record.
Since getting questions starting on Saturday, we have attempted to contact Dart, her family, and members of Team Tracy, the contingent she led in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk over the past decade. No one has confirmed (or denied, for that matter) the allegation. Those we did reach had heard something only second- or thirdhand.
WSB archives include more than 50 mentions of Dart’s fundraising. Those mentions include community fundraisers to benefit her medical bills and living expenses (such as this one in 2011 (see update at end of story) and this one in 2012). They also include fundraisers for Team Tracy’s cancer-fighting efforts, as well as the West Seattle 4 Oso campaign that she spearheaded in 2014 to help the landslide survivors in Snohomish County. And she was involved with other cancer-fighting campaigns; in 2012, we covered her keynote speech at the West Seattle Relay for Life.
In addition to Komen, one contact who was willing to speak on the record is Matt Welch at Auburn Volkswagen, which provided a pink VW that Dart used, as part of the dealerships community involvement. He told WSB by phone today that they actually had two cars, one which Dart used for about a year, between October 2013 and November 2014. Welch stressed that the company does not feel it was taken for a ride, so to speak, and wants to emphasize the benefit for breast-cancer awareness that it feels came from its involvement with Dart.
As for Dart herself, your editor here saw messages on her Facebook page a few weeks ago, attributed to a family member, that she was extremely ill and in a hospital. (Her page was “friends” with our page, as is the case with many people we have covered in the past eight years.) Those messages said the illness did not involve cancer but did not say anything about her allegedly not having battled that disease. Just before the page was deleted, a message apparently from Dart herself said she was fighting the liver disease cirrhosis and planning to drop out of social media until further notice. It did not say anything about her reported past bouts with cancer. The page has since become inaccessible, as have pages involved with Team Tracy, and her onetime TT blog-format personal site also is now no longer publicly visible.
Originally, she had said she was first diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in March 2008, at the age of 33. She was involved with fundraising before that, having first been in the 3-Day Walk in 2006. WSB archives’ first mention of her involved a fundraiser in The Junction in summer 2008. In a 2009 message about 3-Day fundraising, she spoke of her fear of a recurrence.
The most recent fundraising-related mention of her in our archives was from October 2014, at a high-school volleyball game that raised money and awareness for Komen.
If and when Tracy Dart and/or her family has anything to say publicly, or anyone else with insight on what the truth is here – we will report it.
ADDED 8:01 PM: Since publishing this story, we have heard from a community member involved with the 2011 benefit that raised money for Dart’s living expenses. The community member, who asked not to be identified, says that benefit raised just over $7,300, with about 50 businesses donating items to be auctioned, and about 200 people in attendance. The money that was raised was placed in a trust. When Dart requested money for a living expense – rent, phone bill, car repairs, drugstore, vitamin store – a check was written to the payee, not to Dart, said the community member, who wanted to assure those who contributed that “the money went to what we said it would go to.” The $7,300 was spent over the course of four months following the benefit.