Fighting the Good Fight
Boarding for Breast Cancer Snowboard + Music Festival
Sierra-at-Tahoe, CA April 15, 2000
Brian Richardson and Tara Dakides took the halfpipe while Nate Mott and Sarah Meyers won the big air, but the real winners were all the people, male and female, who left the day-long event knowing a bit more about breast cancer and how to fight it.
Boarding for Breast Cancer (BBC) co-founders Lisa Hudson and Kathleen Gasperini decided to get the word out to the snowboarding community back in 1996 after their friend and fellow rider Monica Steward was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26. Hudson, Gasperini and Steward planned an awareness and fund-raising event to inform their snowboarding peers that it's never too early to keep an eye out for this disease. It can strike anyone, including women in their 20s and early 30s.
Steward died shortly before the first BBC, but her memory and spirit are still very much alive to those who knew and loved her, including pro rider Michele Taggart. "We're all here to promote breast cancer awareness and I think that's fabulous," Taggart said, "especially in our age group, because people think 'oh, it won't happen to me.'"
Taggart was joined by a swarm of other notable riders, including Shannon Dunn, Tina Basich, Andy Hetzel, Ross Powers, Tara Dakides, Tricia Byrnes, Cara-Beth Burnside and Barrett Christy. "It's important that we do these because no one is immune to this disease. You're not and I'm not," Christy said.
On the music side, Vera (led by Lib Technologies rider Dave Lee) got the crowd moving and then Flogging Molly and Guttermouth turned it up to 11. Next came The Pharcyde, but I was busy checking out the coolest of info booths, talking to three breast cancer survivors who work at the Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe and checking out the infamous silicon boobs.
These fake breasts contain simulated tumors and give women an idea of what to feel for when doing monthly self-exams. Guys learn what to look for, too. It's been the most talked about feature of every BBC. (I saw one kid trying to stick a boob in his pocket, but I persuaded him to just keep looking for a girlfriend.)
Christine Thomas, another one of Monica Steward's close friends, belted out a beautiful ballad that she wrote in memory of Steward. Then The Pharcyde turned up the bass, starting a funky string of sets by Del the Funky Homosapien and Mos Def, whose rendition of Rapper's Delight spawned an impromptu break dancing session.
"It's good to take something like this seriously," said Tara Dakides, "so they go and get checked before it's too late." World Cup mama Tricia Byrnes agreed, "It's one of my favorite events because it's super mellow and you always pick up information and learn something."
"It's good for girls to learn this stuff," said snow-skate diva Cara-Beth Burnside, "and for guys to be aware of it, too, so it's not such a weird thing."
The Breast Cancer Action organization spread the word on how to get more of Uncle Sam's money appropriated for breast cancer research. Various companies were selling various stuff and donating part of the proceeds to the cause. I couldn't resist the T-shirt that read, simply, "toughtitties," made by the clothing company of the same name.
Of course, the real tough ladies are the ones who are fighting this disease, no matter how young or old they are. Through tons of help and support by volunteers and concerned riders, BBC just keeps growing new momentum every year. According to Hudson, these events have led to more than one young woman detecting lumps and getting treatment before it's too late.
That's concrete proof that events like these really help, and it's what keeps Hudson and Gasperini working hard to keep fighting the good fight. They remember what Monica Steward once wrote: "With the right mindset, treatment, inner strength and support, a person can overcome cancer. Your life can even become more incredible that it was before."
Mary Catherine O'Connor, MountainZone.com Staff
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