Yesterday was World Cancer Day – a day we fully embraced here at Athletes 4 Cancer with images of our Camp Koru survivor ambassadors “kissing cancer goodbye.” These beautiful faces have gone through some serious physical and psychological challenges in their young lives. Some are still battling the disease and fighting for their lives. All of them are seeking or have found a new normal after cancer. Life is never the same, but you move forward.
This is the face of cancer.
World Cancer Day was started by the Union for International Cancer Control to promote a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting that solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer, and that they are within our reach.
I really like their positive and proactive approach to eliminating cancer globally. Their basic points of focus should be something we all strive toward:
Feb. 4 is World Cancer Day, a day celebrating a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer. Join the conversation and call on others to #KissCancerGoodbye after you read this uplifting message from Alyson Geary, a breast cancer survivor and past Camp Koru participant serving as the Director of Donor Relations for the North York General Foundation.
This photo was taken by Bear on the beach in Maui. It represents kissing cancer goodbye because I got out of bed for the first time in many months. After cancer was all done and life was suppose to go back to normal, I got hit with clinical depression, severe anxiety, and post traumatic stress syndrome. I couldn’t function.
Being accepted to Camp Koru forced me to get out of bed and deal. I really started eating for the first time in months at camp, I smiled again, and I came home and fulfilled my lifelong dream by buying a century farm, 150-year-old house. I met an amazing man, my kids are happy again, and I am back to work. I am once again “Aly” or otherwise known as “Khalessi”! Don’t screw with a warrior princess!
Camp Koru and AC4 saved my soul. I will be forever grateful for you being one of my many shovels helping me dig my way out of that dark hole.
The North York General Hospital shared Alyson’s story, proving she’s in the right role at the right time.
Brianna Barrett is one of five Camp Koru ambassadors contributing to the A4C blog sharing her experience about life and cancer.
I refused to shave my head for a preposterously long time. In fact, I refused to shave my hair until after my treatment was over. I was this scrawny, sickly-looking person with creepy long strands of hair over my mostly-bald head. I theorized that it was still enough hair that when I was wearing a beanie or something, it at least looked like I still had some hair (I was probably wrong about this). I often wore a wig, but sometimes wigs are itchy, and you still want to feel like you’re not bald!
The day before I was heading to Seattle to see one of my all-time favorite musicians in concert, my friend Ryan (who never saw me without a wig or hat before) insisted on seeing what my head looked like. Then, upon viewing my disturbingly mangy scalp, he marched me into his bathroom and shaved my head himself. Turns out, I looked way better completely bald than weird-creepy-almost bald.
The next day at the concert, I still wore my wig as I usually did in public. I’m not sure how it happened, though I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I was right next to the stage, but a group of girls at the show started to pick a fight with me. Alcohol-induced, I guess. They were really rude to me and trying to get me to leave.
I have always regretted that I didn’t pull off my wig for just a second to show them my bald head and freak them out. I could’ve said, “Leave me alone. I just beat cancer like two weeks ago and I’m celebrating.” That would have been awesome.
So if you’re reading this and you have cancer and you’re bald, I recommend using that vacant noggin to put rude strangers in their place as needed.
Brianna Barrett is a writer, filmmaker, and artist living in Portland, Oregon. Currently, she is directing a new play, 36 Perfectly Appropriate Mealtime Conversations, for the 2015 Fertile Ground festival and will donate $1 of all ticket sales to support fellow young adults cancer patients and survivors at OHSU. During treatment, Brianna also kept a video journal about her experience.
If you’re going to voluntarily suffer, do it for the right reasons. Like Oregon resident Mark Frost.
On Dec. 21, Mark and about 40 hard-charging recruits took on ten consecutive hours of Sufferfest cycling with proceeds benefitting Athletes 4 Cancer. Only the strong and generous need sign up.
Participants chipped donations while undergoing a pedal-induced sweat fest on stationary bikes in Hood River, Oregon. In total, the event raised about $1,000!
“My father suffered from prostate cancer, and I was compelled to hold this fundraiser in his honor. He selected Athletes 4 Cancer after learning about the positive impact the organization had on young survivors in Hood River,” said Mark.
We’re grateful and inspired to have support from folks like Mark and those who dared to cement their bottoms on a bike for a Sunday. Learn how we’re putting their passion and dollars to work.
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!
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.
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).
“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.”
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 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.
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)
– 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.
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.
“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.”
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.