This year’s Kiteboarding 4 Cancer raised a record $123,422, helping us to fund our 2016 programs! Thank you to everyone who participated, volunteered and contributed in one way or another. This event is a community effort! Here are some of the survivorship programs we have planned for 2016:
[NEW!] Survivorship retreats for metastatic cancer – A new retreat for individuals (and their caregivers) with advanced disease seeking an inspiring, fulfilling experience to enhance quality of life with metastatic cancer.
Camp Koru – Our core outdoor retreat program that empowers young cancer fighters and survivors, ages 18-39, to find healing, achievement, and life renewal through active outdoor experiences in the ocean and the mountains.
Ohana Mana retreats – Our 2nd tier survivorship program for cancer survivors who have attended Camp Koru and are seeking a deeper, profound experience that can help them find a great sense of purpose and accountability in all areas of life after cancer.
A huge thanks to our title sponsor, Patagonia!
Also many many thanks to all of our sponsors!! We could not make KB4C happen without your help!
Cash sponsors allow us to cover critical event expenses so that donations go directly to the cause!
Full Sail Brewing
These sponsors provide everything from marketing & publicity to great prizes for the kite derby, auctions and fundraising!
Chance often plays an all too important role in life. It was chance—and the generosity of a total stranger—that brought me to Kiteboarding 4 Cancer.
One evening last summer, I was kiting near my home in North Carolina when I crashed. My kite deflated, and I had to be pulled onto shore by a friend. He happened to know the woman sitting at the dock we landed on and she kindly invited us in to warm up. After talking with her for hours, I began to share my cancer experience with her.
I am the fourth generation in my family to be diagnosed with cancer. On April 10, 2011, ten years to the day of my mother’s diagnosis, I got a taste of just how precious life is. I was having my junior prom dress fitted and suddenly passed out. Hours later, I learned I had a massive tumor sitting on my heart, filling up my whole chest and crushing everything between my heart and my throat. Had I not passed out, the tumor would have crushed my trachea in another day or two.
My world turned upside down and came to a grinding halt.
The next day, doctors pulled a quart of fluid from my heart and told me I had cancer: Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
The next two years were very long, as I underwent various courses of chemotherapy, antibiotics, steroids, hair loss, spinal taps, blood transfusions, bone marrow extracts, pneumonia, collapsed lungs, and other physical complications and breakdowns.
Then I discovered kiteboarding.
To my and my family’s complete and utter surprise, the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted me about, well, “making a wish.”
It was on a 10-day Make-A-Wish trip to Greece that I happened upon an ad for a kiteboarding school. I had never even heard of the sport, yet I instantly knew I wanted to do it. For the next seven days, I took lessons in the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea. The moment I got up on the board, I knew this sport was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Kiteboarding brought me back to life in every way possible.
It gave me the feeling of being in entire control of my body. To go from no power during cancer to suddenly full power over my body was the most thrilling experience for me. Never before had I realized this potential.
When I heard about Athletes 4 Cancer’s Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, I knew I had to be there. My passion, cancer experience and desire to help other survivors come together in this one incredibly inspiring event. That’s why I had such a desire to go last summer when I crashed my kite.
That women that invited me in to warm up, the one I talked with for hours, she was so moved by my story that she instantly offered to help me get to Kiteboarding 4 Cancer. Her generosity gave me the opportunity to participate in an event that has changed my life, and I can’t wait to get back for a second year.
To learn more about Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, or to donate, click here.
It’s National Cancer Survivors Day, and I believe strongly that survivorship should be celebrated—because there is life after cancer. It can be tough to ask a survivor, someone who has gone through such a traumatic and challenging experience, to celebrate survivorship. Many of you reading this blog have survived cancer yourself, or know someone who has, and understand how difficult it can be to “celebrate” (Woo-hoo! Yehaw!) life after it feels like it crushed you. By celebrate, I mean to pursue and relish in things that inspire you, to seek support when you need it, to find peace and an appreciation for life, and anything else that inspires you. It’s defining your life after cancer, not letting cancer define you. It’s choosing to live—to be alive—not merely survive. That’s the essence of Athletes 4 Cancer’s Alive365! Campaign, an effort to help you send a young cancer survivor to A4C’s Camp Koru so they can learn to celebrate life. (I’d encourage you to get involved. It’s easier than you think!) To start, claim your “survivorship day.” It could be the anniversary of the day they were diagnosed or the day doctors deemed you cancer free. For others, it could be the day their loved one lost or won their battle. You “give up” that day and show cancer who’s boss by fundraising for Alive365! Next, you pick a challenge—anything you want (knitting 10 hats, entering a writing contest, hiking a mountain, doing a 2-minute plank, etc.)—and see it through right up to your survivorship day. This challenge shows your commitment to fundraising, and along the way, your friends and family can track your progress and support your efforts to send a cancer survivor to A4C’s Camp Koru. See how A4C alumni Kelly and Marisa did it! We’d love to have you consider taking part. Now get out there and celebrate survivorship!
A few weeks ago, the Federal Trade Commission, all 50 states and the District of Columbia accused four cancer charities of scamming donors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. It saddened us to see the generosity of donors abused and the field of cancer nonprofits smudged. It angered us to see survivorship mocked by the very existence of these scams. That’s why we just want to take this opportunity to say: Athletes 4 Cancer (A4C) is an authentic and full-time nonprofit serving cancer survivors every day, making real, positive change in their lives.
We know every scar, every strand of hair loss to chemo, every sharp, shooting pain and every tear among our campers is real, and we would never take advantage of that. All of the funds raised for A4C goes straight to our mission of helping young cancer survivors reclaim their lives after cancer through outdoor adventures. Transparency builds trust, and we want every one of our donors to know that their donations give energy, love and new life to many survivors who are at a tough place in their life. Here’s what your dollars have done through Athletes 4 Cancer since it’s beginning:
306 cancer survivors directly-served, having learned life-transforming techniques to move forward after cancer
1530 friends and family of survivors served through our Circle of Influence impact, in which the lives of those closest to our cancer survivors have been positively impacted by the services we provide
18 outdoor retreats & ambassador connector events
Achieved through 1 full-time employee, 2 part-time employees and a volunteer staff of 75
But “results” can’t always be so tangibly measured. Sometimes, it’s the beauty of transformation that reflects the real impact of donations. A4C campers’ testimonials express that transformation.
“Camp Koru changed my life. Only a year out from treatments I didn’t realize how broken I was. The last thing I wanted to do was be with a group of cancerites. Little did I know the best thing I ever did was be with a group of cancerites! I felt like it was ok to be my true self, a side I hadn’t shown in years. The staff and other campers truly helped the transformation from cancer victim to cancer survivor.” –Kiko“Camp Koru…it’s good for the Soul.” –Vida“Camp Koru is the most positive thing that could have ever happened to me. The lessons I learned far exceeded how to surf and paddle. It taught me my strength both physically and mentally. It allowed me to form an amazing bond with others around the world who get it. I learned to get busy living! Koru energized my mind, body and soul. I gained more than just friends, I gained a family, memories and the knowledge that although I had cancer, it doesn’t have me.” –Dragon
These are the stories that hit home, that show A4C is using our funding (responsibly!) to change lives. We’ll keep sharing them with donors so they know how their dollars help young cancer survivors. If you’re interested in sending a survivor to Camp Koru, check out our Alive365! Campaignor email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
“Here’s a picture of all of our kites that we used on our last vacation kiteboarding in Maui. We named our KB4C team ‘The Green Team’ because everyone on our team loves nature and enjoys outdoor activities. Taking care of the environment is important to us. We have been addicted to it since our first lesson! We are from Colorado and Florida,” wrote Brad and Mary Thompson.
The kiteboarding GREEN TEAM rocked today’s Kiteboarding 4 Cancer today. They had a rider on a hydrofoil board – not an easy board for a six hour ride. They helped raise money to support our programs that help young adults with cancer.