Skate the Lake raises nearly $30K for breast cancer awareness | SierraSun.com

Skate the Lake raises nearly $30K for breast cancer awareness

Fifteen-year-old Katie Lyssand has raised more money than any other at the annual Skate the Lake event for the past several years.

And with her donation of nearly $1,500 this year, she's raised more than $16,000 in four years at Skate the Lake.

While Lyssand was dethroned as this year's top earner, one local 4-year-old gave her perhaps the most heartfelt donation she's ever received.

After seeing his mother Danielle Raynal-Dowell donate to Lyssand's campaign, Michael Raynal-Dowell wanted to know why.

“He said, ‘OK what if I give them my money so that they’re un-sick like me.’ I told him you don’t have to do that and he said, ‘Momma I don’t need it.’”

— Danielle Raynal-Dowell, on her son’s donation to Skate the Lake

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"He asked me why I had my wallet out, and then I said, 'Well I'm donating to Katie … it's for people with cancer.' He asked me what cancer was and I told him it makes a lot of people really sick, and kids like you really sick," said Raynal-Dowell.

"He said, 'OK what if I give them my money so that they're un-sick like me.' I told him you don't have to do that and he said, 'Momma I don't need it.' So we drove to her house."

When Lyssand opened the youngster's piggy bank, she was shocked at finding $72 Michael had saved.

"He made Danielle drive to my house with his piggy bank," she said. "I shook it and I thought, 'Oh there's just like $10 in change in there.' Then I started pulling out money and there was $20s and $1s."

This year's 14th annual event brought in nearly 100 skaters to the bike paths around Tahoe City last weekend, and raised nearly $30,000 for Boarding for Breast Cancer's prevention and survivorship programs.

After the event concluded, Lyssand rewarded the youngster for his generosity with a brand new Sector 9 longboard she'd won the day before.

A new finish, an old friend

This year's event raised several thousand dollars more than last year and attracted roughly twice as many skaters to take on the 28-mile journey along from Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point State Park to Squaw Valley, and then back to the finish line at Commons Beach in Tahoe City.

Previously the fundraiser had concluded at Heritage Plaza, but, according to the program's board chair and co-founder Lisa Hudson, a partnership with the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce allowed for the event to be moved to Commons Beach.

The new finish area was something organizers have wanted for several years with Skate the Lake Organizer Curt Sterner calling it a "dream come true."

Also new this year was the option for dropping in at Squaw Valley for a 7-mile ride back to Tahoe City.

Perhaps another reason this year's event reached nearly 100 riders was the involvement of Tahoe Longboards, and its owner Chuck Vogt, who returned to the event after missing the last several years.

Vogt, who co-founded the event, said he needed to "step out and regroup" after helping start the event, but made his return this year, bringing a legion of local skaters along with.

"It means everything (to be back)," said Vogt, who joined Sterner in creating the event in 2005 as a way to honor their own mothers' fights with breast cancer. "I woke up this morning in tears. I had a missing spot in my heart."

Family of skaters

Coming into this year's event, Jason Knight had participated in 12 straight Skate the Lakes.

This year he showed up with his two sons for the 8:30 a.m. start feeling a little groggier than normal, but Knight wasn't about to let a graveyard shift at the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District end his or the family's streak.

"This year I saw a lot more kids," said Knight, whose youngest son rode a bike the full distance after having his training wheels removed two weeks prior. "And it's been a good educational tool for my kids to learn philanthropy."

As a family, the Knights were able to knock off Lyssand as this year's top fundraisers, bringing in roughly $1,600. The family has brought in $10,000 in total throughout the years.

"It's always good to see everyone along with all the support from friends and family," said Knight. "It's like a big family."

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.