Author Archives: tfarman

2014 Kiteboarding 4 Cancer breaks the record for fundraising for Camp Koru!

2014 Subaru KB4C

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

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 shows his support on the water. Photo: Richard Hallman

A rider comes in close. 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

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 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

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

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

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

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

Fire dancers at the Kickoff Party Friday night. Photo: Jen Jones

Party goers admire the Boards of Hope on display. 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

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

Cabrinha Kites

North Kites

Airush Kites


2nd Wind Sports


Allstate Insurance – Hood River Dawkins Insurance

Dub Box


Iberdrola Renewables

Native Eyewear

Naish Kites

Apple Valley BBQ

The Kiteboarder Magazine

John Wayne Cancer Foundation

Best Kiteboarding

Big Winds

Oregon Screen Impressions


KB4C Sponsors

Steve Fisher’s Kiteboarding 4 Cancer Tips

Athlete. Ambassador. Cancer survivor. Top fundraiser.

Steve Fisher’s tips for successful KB4C experience:


- Don’t try and race but ride a steady and consistent time line.
– Have fun. Smile and wave to the crowd. (Without a crowd this event would be boring)
– Hydrate!
– Wear sunscreen! A helmet is the best sunscreen for your scalp.
– Don’t be afraid to change kites if the conditions become too difficult with the kite you are on. Be efficient.

KB4C team rider Steve Fisher is an Athletes 4 Cancer ambassador, which means he’s been through our Camp Koru program to transition out of a cancer phase in his life. He’s been a top fundraiser, volunteer and amazing spokesperson for Camp Koru. He’s a guy that demonstrates why we do what we do. He even attempts to kiteboard the 6 hours at KB4C to help other survivors move on with their lives after cancer.

You can donate to Steve’s page here: or come to Kiteboarding 4 Cancer this weekend in Hood River, Oregon.


The 8th Annual Kiteboarding 4 Cancer Festival & Kite Derby Fueled by Subaru!

200+ Kiteboarders and 2000+ Spectators to Travel from throughout the Nation to Participate in Kiteboarding 4 Cancer Festival in Hood River, sponsored by SUBARU


Event supports survivorship programs for young adult cancer fighters
through Oregon-based non-profit Athletes 4 Cancer.

Hood River, Ore. (June 10, 2014) — Athletes 4 Cancer, an organization that enriches lives impacted by cancer through the healing power of the outdoors, is hosting the 8th annual Kiteboarding 4 Cancer (KB4C), fueled by SUBARU, on July 12-13 in Hood River, Oregon.  As North America’s largest amateur kiteboarding race, KB4C draws more than 200 amateur and professional kiteboarders, racing and raising funds for Athletes 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru Survivorship Program.

race-HALLMAN7732“Camp Koru Survivorship Program is an adventure retreat program that empowers young cancer survivors, ages 18-40, to find healing, achievement, and life renewal through active outdoor experiences in the ocean and the mountains,” says Athletes 4 Cancer Founder and Executive Director Tonia Farman.  “Our Kiteboarding 4 Cancer event provides the majority of funding for these outdoor therapy cancer camps, so it’s exciting to see hundreds of kiteboarders and thousand supporters come out for this event and our cause.”

To see what Kiteboarding 4 Cancer is all about, be sure to watch the video:

Kiteboarding 4 Cancer challenges the tenacity of the most advanced and novice kiters alike with a 6-hour Endurance Race – The Kite Derby. Hundreds of kiteboarders race around a 3-mile course on the Columbia River for the six hours, spanning more than 100 miles per rider. KB4C Kite Derby is unique compared to other kiteboarding events due to its format: Athlete kiters can come in and go out of the water at any time during the race, making it nearly impossible for each athlete to know exactly where they are in the pack. Athletes typically kiteboard for the full 6 hours, never getting off the water.


The Relay-on-the-Green Team Relay race is an incredible event for spectators and participants alike.  With all the action happening right at the beach, the relay gives a whole new meaning to kiteboarding as an individual sport. Teams consist of 4 racers, one kite, and one board.  Limited to just 12 teams, all the action in this event takes place on shore or close to shore, engaging the crowd the entire time.

Kiteboarding 4 Cancer also features 6 bands playing over the two days, the Full Sail beer garden, food by local vendors, the kids’ art tent, Boards of Hope art project/auction, raffle, silent and live auctions.


Boards of Hope entails the transformation of boards of all types – surfboards, skateboards, snowboards, kiteboards and skimboards – into works of art that represent “healing and living”. Boards are donated by regional artists and auctioned off Saturday at the Boards of Hope Auction at the Hood River Event Site. Funds raised benefit Athletes 4 Cancer.


Nightlife for KB4C includes the Athlete & Volunteer Feast Friday, July 13th, hosted by Apple Valley BBQ and the KB4C Kickoff Party after the dinner Friday night at the Horse & Hound Pub.

The goal of Kiteboarding 4 Cancer is to raise funds for the Athletes 4 Cancer Camp Koru Survivorship Program that helps cancer fighters and survivors ages 18-40 rebuild their lives after cancer. The mantra of the event is to take on a unique challenge and endure to the point of exhaustion, testing both mental and physical tenacity, embodying the struggle someone going through cancer faces every day. With this in mind, we encourage individuals to fundraise a minimum of $500 (Teams, $2000) in donations to participate. Alternatively, there will be a simple registration fee of $75 (Teams, $300) to participate. Top fundraisers and finishers receive sponsor prizes.

Athletes 4 Cancer is dedicated to harnessing the healing power of the elements with the determination of the human spirit to benefit lives affected by cancer through funding of advocacy, prevention, and survivorship programs. Athletes 4 Cancer is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, IRS tax ID #42-1737854 and is solely in charge of Kiteboarding 4 Cancer. We fund our programs and charities solely through tax-deductible contributions from private individuals, corporations and foundations.


Athletes 4 Cancer would like to thank our 2014 Kiteboarding 4 Cancer sponsors: Subaru, Patagonia, Liquid Force Kites, Vela Kitesurf Resorts, Full Sail Brewing, Cabrinha Kites, 2nd Wind Sports, UPS Store Hood River, Dakine, North Kiteboarding, KIND Bars, Best Kiteboarding, Airush Kites, Big Winds, Dub Box, Coast to Coast, Naish Kites, Native Eyewear, The Kiteboarder Magazine, Apple Valley Country Store, Cascade Kiteboarding, SoloSports, and Palapas Ventana.

For the most updated news and info on Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, check out our website: .  |


Kelly O’Malley-McKee
Ahtletes 4 Cancer

### END

Gratitude from camp

We just finished up our first of two spring survivorship retreats here at Camp Koru, and I just received an email from one our campers that I had to share.

I want to express my gratitude for the extraordinary experience of being a part of Camp Koru this past week in Maui. I was so in my element, being active in surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, eating fabulous, healthy food, relaxing and being closer to nature, and most importantly, sharing stories and being with other cancer survivors. All of these parts of camp were rejuvenating and healing. My anxieties and worries dissipated for that entire week. I felt freer and more open. 
There is a quality of compassion and truth amongst people who understand the fragility of mortality. As survivors, it seems that we grow a new level of intensity in experiencing the world and the people around us, that can actually make us feel more alone. It is so important to me to have a support system and simply be amongst others who share similar experiences. And even better to challenge ourselves to new physical and mental accomplishments together, like surfing and stand up paddle boarding. We were able to genuinely express ourselves and our identities as cancer survivors. To me, living in this place of ‘realness’ is bliss. 
I am thankful for everything you do to help others who struggle as survivors. I am so inspired by your bravery and strength in turning a tragedy into wonderful opportunities for others. I would love to volunteer or help this organization flourish in any way that I can. Being a part of the cause is necessary for me. 
Thank you thank you thank you,
Wolf Rider (aka “Marisa”)

Standing on Fear : Introspections of a survivor’s ego, self-pity, anger, and surfing… on one leg


Hurtling across the ocean toward the island of Maui, I am unsure of what awaits me at Athletes 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru. My cancer has been gone for years and I want to believe I’m over it, but I know that is impossible. So I keep pushing on to go through it, rather than try and do the impossible and get over it.

I was diagnosed with Osteogenicsarcoma or Bone Cancer at the age of 18 and spent the next three years in and out of the hospital as the cancer spread to my lungs and lymph nodes. My treatment consisted of countless rounds of chemotherapy, and surgery after surgery after surgery. Ultimately, my left leg was amputated above the knee, and then the cancer slowed and eventually stopped growing and spreading within me. At the time I was given a 30 percent chance to live through the year. I’m now going on nine years remission and am picking up steam on leading the life I want to live.


As the plane continues it’s journey across the ocean, I find myself ignoring the fact that I am heading to a surf camp with only one leg to stand on. Ignoring this because it scares me and no matter how hard I try to pretend there isn’t, there is still a part of me that thinks maybe I won’t be able to surf. And if that is the case what am I doing on a plane heading to Maui? Better to just ignore that than prepare for it…right.

As the number of years I’ve been in remission continues to add up, I’ve tried to get back to living a more active lifestyle, like the one I led before cancer took my leg. This has been a challenge, as it is something I’ve avoided to spare myself the pain of directly experiencing what I can no longer do without my leg. That is not who I am though, I’ve never been someone who shied away from a challenge, in most cases the greater the challenge the more I gravitate towards it. Maintaining peak mental and physical strength, throughout three years of life draining cancer treatment, is a near impossible task. And as much I would like to think the moment you are done with treatment, you get all this strength back in an easy and intuitive manner, you don’t! That is why programs like Camp Koru exist.


Many of us young cancer warriors have fought a grueling battle and won, but that battle took just about everything we have. We need a little boost to get back to grabbing life by the horns!

On the first full day of camp, myself and 14 other cancer warriors headed to the beach to see what kind of surfing chops we had. I stood on the beach, unstrapped my prosthesis, passed it off, and found the same feeling welling up inside of me that appears every time I try a new physical activity. It is a feeling of anger, sadness, and frustration that combines into a ruthless form of fearless determination. My ego is still wounded deeply by the loss of my leg. Every time I try something new my head is filled with the memories of my past, of running five minute miles, sprinting to the finish-line in cross country races, dominating pickup games of soccer and basketball and never ceasing to compete no matter how outmatched I was. These feelings used to overcome me every time I tried to do anything physical. But after fighting back death I refuse to live a life of fear.

So I hop around on the beach full of anxiety, wanting to get in the water and not wanting to at the same time. The Camp Koru staff patiently encouraged me to get in and go for it.


Getting in the first time was the only hard part, from then on I was hooked. On the first day the surf instructors were pushing me into waves, by the end of the week I was a machine, paddling into every wave I could. My one-leggedness did little to hold me back, I made adjustments and adapted without even thinking about it. I surfed standing up on one-leg, on all fours, and found my groove with a two point, one foot and one hand form. Feeling the power of the ocean below me and knowing I had the strength to propel myself forward and join with the ocean was exhilarating and mind blowing to say the least.


In the last year I’ve made a commitment to myself to do whatever I can to take the negative emotions cancer has left me with and turn them on their head. These are very powerful emotions, but I am realizing they don’t rule me, I can harness their power and use it for good rather than let it depress me and keep me from living the life I want. Which is where Camp Koru comes in; by giving cancer warriors the chance to do something tangible and concrete, such as learning to surf, they give us physical evidence of the abilities we still possess, no matter what cancer has ripped out of our weakened grasp. This physical evidence becomes mental strength and gives myself and other cancer warriors the ability to take all the crap cancer has left us with and use it to fertilize our minds and bodies rather than let it drag us down and hold us back.


As I’ve touched on, the most challenging consequence of my cancer is the raw feeling of the physical loss of my leg. For a very long time I looked at my amputation strictly in terms of can’t and to be frank, there are things I used to do that I can no longer do… at least not in the same way. But does any of that really matter? Does the fact that I can’t do what I used to do mean I shouldn’t do anything moving forward? Of course not! I’ve realized turning the can’t of my amputation into a can is an ongoing and gradual process, but with Camp Koru I took some very long strides forward on this journey! The next time I start to freak out when I am going to try something new I’m going to stop and think about all the waves I caught in Maui and remember that the strength I felt then is always present within me.

I can’t thank Camp Koru and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation enough for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime and for blowing my mind! If you are a cancer warrior struggling to carry on then apply to camp!

~ Peter Greenwood, aka “Roar”
First-time Camp Koru participant in Camp 9, October 2013

2014 A4C Event Volunteer (and slightly-paid) Needs

The funds raised at our summer event series goes directly to fund our programs. As our primary source of funding, we aim to make the events amazing, but not without TONS of help! Volunteers get perks for helping out. Here are areas of event volunteer needs and a couple paid positions too.


Summer Event Volunteers – Kiteboarding 4 Cancer and Boards of Hope

Volunteer Positions available in all the following areas: Please fill out volunteer application HERE


Race Coordination

Logistics & Setup


Volunteer Management

Athlete Lounge

Silent Auction

Boards of Hope Art Project

Sponsorship Opportunities

There are many ways for businesses to get involved including…

Event Sponsorship — Your logo, brand, and possibly product presence throughout the event — email Tonia (at) for more info.

Silent Auction Packages — create a silent auction basket or package based on a theme, donated by your company, A4C promotes it in advance of the event. Fun!!

Slightly paid positions:  

Please fill out volunteer application and email tonia (at) directly with resume and your interest.

Sponsorship Coordinator – Kiteboarding 4 Cancer:

  • Develop, secure and track prospective and existing sponsors: Cash sponsors for event budget and in-kind/product sponsors for prizes, raffle, and athlete packs.
  • Maintain sponsor database (we already have one too) and ensure that sponsors and partners are tracked and recognized before, during, and after event.
  • Communicate with sponsors to obtain donations for event.
  • Manage sponsor needs during event, ensuring all sponsorship agreements are met.

Estimated time involved:

  • April 10-June 10: 12 hours/week
  • June 10-July 10: 8 hours /week
  • Event weekend: July 11-13
  • July 14-Aug 1: 2-4 hours/week

Marketing Coordinator – Events:

  • Put together a marketing plan for the 12 weeks prior to each event using A4C digital marketing channels (blog, e-news, website, facebook, twitter, stayclassy, causes, etc.) that achieves the goals of increased athlete participation, spectatorship and fundraising.
  • Manage social media presence prior to, and during, event.
  • Review and measure stats on HootSuite of all social media activity.
  • Coordinate poster design for events, working with Sponsorship Coordinator to represent sponsors.

Estimated time involved:

  • April 1-July 10: 12 hours /week
  • Event weekend: July 11-13

Silent Auction Coordinator:

  • Procure in-kind donations from businesses and individuals, obtaining item/service descriptions, photos, etc.
  • Completion of donation forms and maintaining records of donated items.
  • Coordinating correspondence materials, acknowledgement letters, etc.
  • Working with other volunteers and staff to prepare for the day of the silent auction
  • Organizing auction on day of the event
  • Closing auction and facilitating item distribution

Estimated time involved:

  • May 1-June 15: 8 hours/week
  • June 15-June 15: 12 hours /week
  • Event weekend: Friday, July 13-July 15

Boards of Hope Coordinator:

  • Promote Boards of Hope to artist communities
  • Procure artwork 
  • Coordinate communication, acknowledgement letters, etc. with artists
  • Work with other volunteers and staff to prepare for the day of the silent auction
  • Organizing Boards of Hope component of auction on day of the event
  • Manage Boards of Hope during live auction and facilitate item distribution

Estimated time involved:

  • April 1-June 15: 8-10 hours/week
  • June 15-July 15: 12 hours /week
  • Event weekend: July 11-13
  • July 14-Aug. 1: 2-4 hours /week

All slightly-paid positions please complete volunteer app above and email tonia (at) with a resume and your interest.