The 8th Annual Kiteboarding 4 Cancer raised $122,789 for Athletes 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru – enough to cover a full year’s worth of camps that help young survivors get their lives back after cancer.
Kiteboarding 4 Cancer is more than just a kiteboarding event, but the main event is a 6-hour endurance race that tests physical and mental strength and tenacity on the water. Kiteboarders hope for wind to help power their kites to go the full 6 hours, or over 100 miles on the Columbia River in front of the town of Hood River.
Despite a less-than-favorable forecast, the wind kicked in at about noon, increased throughout the day and blew strong and steady for several hours, giving the 154 participants of the 8th Annual Kiteboarding 4 Cancer fundraiser a full afternoon of sunny skies and steady wind to make this year’s 6-hour endurance race one of the best and most competitive in event history!
The event site, full of kites. Photo: Jen Jones
A view of the event site from the water. Photo: Richard Hallman
In a parallel of what cancer survivors endure on a daily basis, the KB4C endurance race is a test of personal grit and determination. Those who log the highest number of laps kite the entire six hours without taking a break — a feat not to be underestimated, especially this year with temperatures climbing into the 90s and the wind blowing considerably harder than expected.
Jackie Bishop heads out for her lap in the Kite Derby. Photo: Richard Hallman
A rider shows his support on the water. Photo: Richard Hallman
A rider comes in close. Photo: Richard Hallman
Participants competed more than 2,300 laps around the 3-mile course, totaling nearly 7,000 miles of kiting. Individual male top three finishers were Brandon Scheid (70 laps), Tony Bolstad and Cory Roeseler; top three females were Carol Bolstad (48 laps), Rachel Callahan and Savannah Boersma and the top youth finisher was Veta Boersma (42 laps).
KB4C Founder Tonia Farman high 5’s Patagonia team member and supporter Jason Slezak. Photo: Richard Hallman
Colorful kites take up event site real estate. Photo: Jen Jones
“I was out there riding for two hours straight, constantly working upwind. It was a struggle,” said participant Brianna Hirsch, a cancer survivor. “I was thinking, come on, you’ve been through cancer, you can do this.”
Hirsch’s team of cancer survivors, named Two Lymphomas and Two Ballers, was the top fundraising team this year, bringing in $8,408. Team members were Hirsch, Steve Fisher, Igor Alvarez and Jim Erjavek.
Kiteboarding brought me back to life after cancer experience,” said Hirsch, who teaches lessons for Cascade Kiteboarding School. “Last year was my first KB4C and it inspired me to get more involved.”
In all, athletes from Saturday’s endurance race raised more than $80,000 through pledges and individual fundraising efforts before the race even began.
The top individual fundraiser was cancer survivor and former U.S. National Team synchronized swimmer Mandi Browning, who broke the $10,000 threshold by the end of the weekend.
“Life can certainly throw you some major speed bumps,” Browning said on her KB4C fundraising page. “I think what makes the difference is how we choose to traverse them. I prefer to do this with grace, integrity, and living my life as a positive example for others (especially for my daughter). I am thankful for each new day that I have the privilege to be able to live, and I never take anything or anyone for granted. I was first diagnosed 17 years ago … I fought my last battle three years ago, and I’m standing my ground today, cancer-free. Hey, I’m still here, and I’ve got a lot of things that I’ve yet to accomplish … I want to be able to help others and encourage them in their fight; to be able to show them that all things are possible, and that we are all here to support each other. This is an incredible opportunity and I am honored to be a part of this awesome event.”
Camp Koru painted rocks at the Kids Art Tent. Photo: Jen Jones
On top of individual and team fundraising efforts, silent and live auctions held over the weekend brought nearly $25,000. Among the auction fundraisers, the Boards of Hope art project has become particularly popular, and inspiring, over the years. Boards of Hope can be traced back to Scott Farman, the late brother of KB4C founder Tonia Farman.
Boards of Hope boards line up at the KB4C Kickoff Party as a preview for Saturday’s auction. Photo: Jen Jones
“Boards of Hope began from the hospital bed of 19- year-old Scott Farman, fighting for his life with acute lymphocytic leukemia,” an excerpt from Athletes 4 Cancer’s website explains. “Scott turned to art for emotional release and when confined in the hospital. In the process, Scott created powerful works of art that today remain his legacy and inspiration for others to find healing through art and the outdoors.”
Cancer survivor and Camp Koru participant Samantha Newton created one of several of Boards of Hope for this year’s auction. Her board — a snowboard — depicted the snow-capped Cascade Mountain Range, under a brightly blue and sunny sky. In an email correspondence, Newton gave the following account of her motivation behind the board design, and her experience with a Camp Koru program on Mount Hood:
“During Camp KORU I participated in downhill skiing for the first time in my life, up on Mount Hood. I would be scared out of my mind, sometimes paralyzed with fear, unable to move down that mountain. And then an 8-year-old would zip by me at a million miles an hour like it was nothing. I’d think, how is that kid doing that? Just letting gravity take him down. “In my journey through cancer I was done with the uphill part, the fighting part. And it was hard, but it makes sense and a lot of people are there for you. “Before Camp KORU I was just wobbling up there at the top of the mountain, alone and scared to move on and filled with anxiety every time I tried to. My week with Tonia (Farman) and her organization and everyone that was on that mountain with me was truly life changing. “I want to go down now. I want to let life take me. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes I still struggle. But, because of the support I had conquering that mountain, I feel like I am more ready to conquer whatever is ahead of me.
“They say it isn’t about conquering the mountain, it’s about conquering yourself. I find that to be true and am finally beginning to move on in my real life because of Camp Koru, and those mountains I see in the distance each day.”
Other events at Kiteboarding 4 Cancer included the Kids Art Tent, The Live Music Stage, the Silent Auction, an Eat-Well demonstration by TrueMed Institute of Hood River, Beer by Full Sail Brewing, and the Boards of Hope live auction.
LoveBomb Go Go Band pulled out big sound for the big event. Photo: Jen Jones
Announcer Gregg Gnecco makes the rounds around the event to talk to sponsors and supporters. Photo: Jen Jones
Lap counters sit on the point to get up close and personal with riders as they kite by. Photo: Jen Jones
One World Taiko of Seattle, Washington bangs out thumping drum sounds for the start of the Kite Derby. Photo: Richard Hallman
Athlete group hug. Photo: Richard Hallman
Surfboard shaper and legend Gerry Lopez hangs out at Kiteboarding 4 Cancer. Photo: Jen Jones
Fire dancers at the Kickoff Party Friday night. Photo: Jen Jones
Party goers admire the Boards of Hope on display. Photo: Jen Jones
Belly Dancers kick off the Kickoff Party. Photo: Jen Jones
A huge shout of thanks to our sponsors -
Bob Stone Subaru
Full Sail Brewing
Liquid Force Kites
2nd Wind Sports
Allstate Insurance – Hood River Dawkins Insurance
Apple Valley BBQ
The Kiteboarder Magazine
John Wayne Cancer Foundation
Oregon Screen Impressions