Tomorrow is Skate The Coast in Southern California. My first claim to long distance pushing fame. 20 miles along the coast of California, from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach. For Breast Cancer. My first time, I was pretty sure that was all I had available to muster, and it probably was. I completed my first 20 miles (Err… 18, plus two back to the car?) just a few short weeks after learning how to push around my neighborhood and get over cracks without running over my dog. I was far from being able to skate with a coffee or a hula hoop, but I could cross step. *Brushes shoulders off.*
I arrived late to the meeting point, which was a problem, until I found the giant yellow Sector 9 Bread Truck, and joined EG and Mercado, arriving safely at the starting line. Along the way, Mercado told me about his homie’s anti-cancer company, appropriately called Fuck Cancer. (Buy a t-shirt. I did.) You can check them out, but in the mean time, I’m going to chat with Liza, the Marketing Manager of Boarding for Breast Cancer, a very active breast cancer awareness company that has been using our favorite medium to promote a healthy lifestyle: boards, of all sizes and shapes.
So of all the boards, Liza, which type of board is your fave?
The first longboard I ever stepped foot on was a Sector 9 bamboo pintail, and that completely changed my perception of skateboarding. I had no idea that a skateboard could feel so much like snowboarding, and I fell in love pretty instantly. I was stoked that I found a way to get my fix in the summer!
Right now I’m riding a Makaha Promenade, which is a super fun cruiser board, and perfect for getting around Santa Monica and Venice where I live.
And which would you say are “just friends”?
Is that even possible? I guess I get pretty committed to my boards!
In what ways has boarding affected your life?
Boarding has changed my life and my entire career path, and for the better. I fell in love with boarding when I started snowboarding at 10 or 11, and that addiction got me into wakeboarding and eventually skating. After graduating college with a Bio degree and planning on going into medicine, I decided to take a year off and move up to Lake Tahoe to spend a winter in the mountains before entering the “real world.” I got my EMT license and worked as a snowboard instructor and an NSP snow patroller, which then lead to a job teaching wakeboarding up in Sac, living on a houseboat and being on the Delta everyday. After an experience like that, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
Working in action sports made me realize how important it was to me, and that I didn’t really see myself doing anything else with my life. Getting first tracks on a powder day or cutting hard on a glassy lake brings the kind of serenity that you can’t explain and a high that you can’t get anywhere else. It brings out the best in me, and that’s where I want to be.
What are some lessons you’ve learned via a board?
Boarding is such a passion sport, and it’s taught me so much about living in the present and soaking up every last moment. Sometimes the best things or the most amazing places can only be seen from a board, and I feel so grateful that I get to experience that.
Also, I’m pretty sure you can’t answer a question about lessons learned via a board without mentioning perseverance, because…ouch.
When did you start working with B4BC?
I’ve been working for B4BC for over 2 years now. When I found out that the offices were based in LA where I was currently living, I knew I had to get involved on whatever level I could, and that started by volunteering in the outreach booth at X Games Los Angeles. I was so impressed by B4BC’s goal of not only empowering young women by educating them about the early detection and prevention of breast cancer, but also giving them the tools and encouragement they need to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
Working for B4BC has been such an amazing opportunity for me, because not only does it feel like you’re working for the greater good and making a difference in shaping youth culture, but you also really get to see the best in people. It’s motivating to see how inspiring B4BC is to others!
How is B4BC different from the pink ribbons stuck to the back of cars and attached to common items made special in pink?
B4BC means so much more than just a pink ribbon or pink anything for that matter; what we promote is a lifestyle of being healthy, active and advocating for yourself. By doing that through the outlet of action sports we are able to create an instant connection with a community of people that are drawn to us on that level. We believe that early detection + a healthy, active lifestyle = the best prevention.
Our core values have always centered around being a strong advocate for women and young girls. This year and in the years to come, we are forming partnerships and dedicating resources to growing and promoting participation in board sports. It’s all a part of our Be Healthy. Get Active. Ride! campaign that is supported by B4BC athletes and the industry as a whole. We have an amazing pro female team of surfers, skaters, snowboarders and wakeboarders, and we just hosted a “Women in Action Sports” panel at X Games LA in conjunction with our very first B4BC (Skate) Boarding School. We’re super stoked about that!
Can you tell us a little about the beginnings of B4BC? How did the organization establish roots?
Founded in 1996, B4BC is the original youth-focused breast cancer education and prevention foundation, which started with the B4BC Music and Snowboard Festival headlined by the Beastie Boys at Sierra-at-Tahoe. B4BC was founded by pro snowboarders Tina Basich and Shannon Dunn along with Lisa Hudson and Kathleen Gasperini, in honor of their young friend Monica Steward who started her battle with breast cancer at the age of 26 and passed two years later of complications that arose from delayed diagnosis. The event was created around their passions of snowboarding and music while communicating the urgent importance of awareness and education. What started as a Snowboard and Music Festival has evolved into our year round outreach, prevention and support programs, which have been active for 17 years now. B4BC has received continuous support from the action sport community and brands, which have embraced B4BC’s goal since our inception and allowed us to make a greater impact!
What are the different facets of Boarding for Breast Cancer?
B4BC is an education, prevention and support organization, and we accomplish that through multiple programs that we have in place.
Our educational outreach is a huge component of what we do, and our traveling Check One, Two education booth is on the road about 10 months out of the year. We visit college campuses, music festivals, mountains, beaches, skate parks and action sports events including The Vans Warped Tour, Summer X Games, Winter X Games, U.S. Open of Surfing, U.S. Open of Snowboarding, and SuperGirl Pro Series to name a few! While on site, we have the opportunity to teach young people how to perform a monthly Breast Self Exam (BSE), eat healthy, avoid harmful chemicals linked to breast cancer and take a pledge to incorporate one of our 7 Steps of Prevention into their lifestyle! Our Check One, Two Campus Tour, which had 19 stops nationwide last year, is coming up in October and we’re excited to get back on college campuses and add our own educational agenda!
Coming up this weekend we have the 9th Annual Skate the Coast [SoCal], and we recently finished the Skate the Lake [Tahoe] stop of our Skate the States longboard-a-thon fundraiser series, which currently includes , Skate the Lake [Tahoe], and the inaugural Skate the [Willamette] River in Portland! Thanks to the support of our sponsors and fundraisers, we’ve been able to raise over $100,000 through the series since its inception, as well as donate back to local nonprofits in the communities that align with B4BC’s mission.
One of the ways B4BC supports the breast cancer survivor community is through the B4BC Survivorship Fund by sponsoring survivors with scholarships to our Survivorship retreats, lead by B4BC Ambassador Megan Pischke. The retreats connect breast cancer survivors with nature-based wellness experiences that enhance their path of healing and long-term survivorship, while incorporating elements of snowboarding in the winter and surfing in the summer.
Finally, B4BC’s Shred the Love winter series is our winter fundraising platform, and we host board-a-thons and rail jams at ski resorts nationwide, as well as in Canada! Shred the Love is a way of being—healthy, active and aware. By partnering with local mountains we are able to activate through online and on-mountain activities to spread our message and give back to local communities through snowboarding!
What are plans for the next 5 years?
We have so much in the works! B4BC is constantly growing and evolving, and we are always looking for new and effective ways to proliferate our mission.
By growing events like Skate the States, Shred the Love, and B4BC Boarding Schools, we’re able to build on our commitment to give back locally and on a larger scale as well. Keep your eye on us – we have some big things happening!
We’re active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest and Tumblr, so we’d love to interact with you through those outlets. We also invite you to check out our website for more information about what we do: www.B4BC.org