Breast Cancer gets some air at WSSF 

Charity gains momentum throughout action sports industry


Justine Chiara concedes that at every Boarding for Breast Cancer event there’s always some "young guys" who run past and squeeze the boobs on their static educational equipment.

"That’s part of the fun… but a lot of guys are interested to find out that 30 per cent of breast cancer is found by a woman’s partner," said Chiara.

Chiara is the Executive Director of Boarding for Breast Cancer, which is a charity that is quickly emerging from the snowboarding industry and it’s going to be represented in Whistler’s upcoming Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

Like most charities, B4BC’s beginnings were steeped in tragedy but its future looks extremely bright.

The Girl Powder party on April 15 at the GLC will be donating funds to Boarding for Breast Cancer and Sony Pictures, which is releasing Lords of Dogtown in Whistler on April 12, is also big supporters of B4BC.

Professional snowboarders Shannon Dunn, Tina Basich, Lisa Hudson and a group of others started B4BC after one of their dear friends, Monica Stewart, got breast cancer at age 26.

"Monica was actually one of the co-founders of Bonfire and unfortunately Monica was misdiagnosed three times when she was told that the lump she had found herself was nothing of concern for a women of her age," said Chiara.

"When she was accurately diagnosed the cancer had progressed quite a bit and she passed just prior to her 29th birthday."

B4BC was formed in response to their close friend’s diagnosis at a young age, Monica’s frustration at the lack of information that was geared towards young women and the isolation that she felt during her treatment.

On her bequest, Dunn, Basich and others produced an event called the snowboard and music festival. The first festival took place in 1996 in Sierra, Tahoe, where the Beastie Boys performed.

"It was basically a means to bring young people to the mountain for a day," said Chiara. "But more importantly it was to get them to come to the B4BC educational outreach booth, which taught young women how to do self-breast exams and why it’s important to do them on a monthly basis.

"That event went until 2002 and we donated $650,000 to breast cancer funds… but over the last couple of years we’ve done a redirect and stopped producing festivals and focussed our efforts on trying to organize educational outreach programs.

"Now we have a program that starts in January with Winter X-Games and goes through to summer season, where we attend surf, skate and music events, and we end our season in August at the ESPN Summer X-Games," said Chiara.

"In addition, we’ve hosted eight of our own Boarderthons, which are basically scaled down versions of WSSF and they cover most of our costs."

The success of B4BC has attracted qualified people such as Chiara, who lost her mother to breast cancer four years ago.

But Chiara is the only full-time employee so volunteers such as 26-year-old Emily Cochran do much of the work. Cochran approached Chiara about helping her with B4BC after hearing about the organization at an event.

"Emily’s a breast cancer survivor that had a double mastectomy when she was 22 and she’s gone through rounds of chemotherapy," said Chiara. "She heard about us, contacted me and it went from there… so we’ve got some special people involved here."

B4BC will not have a booth in Whistler during the WSSF but Chiara said she was planning to have a Whistler program ready for the 2006 WSSF. For more information look up < .


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