Record amount raised at 15th annual Skate the Lake | SierraSun.com

Record amount raised at 15th annual Skate the Lake

In it’s 15th year of sending skateboarders, cyclists, and roller skaters along Tahoe’s West Shore, the annual Skate the Lake fundraiser reached new heights last Saturday morning, attracting the largest turnout and most money raised in the history of the event.

More than 100 participants showed up for the Boarding for Breast Cancer event, which raised more than $36,000 for the organization’s outreach, education, and survivorship programs.

Beginning at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park, participants rolled across roughly 20 miles of paved trails and roads to The Village at Squaw Valley. From there, the group followed the trail along the Truckee River back to the finish line at Commons Beach in Tahoe City, completing the 28-mile distance.

“It was an amazing year,” said Tahoe local Cali Vail, who volunteered to help out with this year’s event. “Overall, we had a very good turnout — a lot of people having fun.”

Vail was also the top fundraiser this year, bringing in $2,115 for the event.

“I’ve always been gunning for it, but I’ve always been beaten out,” said Vail who has ridden in or volunteered at the event for the past eight years. “It’s amazing to give back to the community by doing this and having fun with it. A lot of kids my age see community service as work, like picking up trash on the freeway. For me, community service is doing this, hanging out, fundraising, and skateboarding.”

Like many who rode in the event, Vail, a senior at North Tahoe High School, has lost loved ones to cancer.

“I’ve lost a couple of family members to different kinds of cancer,” he said. “I come out here to give back, and do what I can to help raise awareness.”

First family of skating

For the past 14 years, Jason Knight has been participating in Skate the Lake.

In recent years Knight’s sons have joined their father in the event, becoming among the youngest riders ever to complete the route.

“I missed the very first Skate the Lake but we have been at every (Skate the Lake) since,” Knight wrote on his family’s fundraising page. “My very first year, it snowed the night before. We skated anyway. It was something I will never forget. Over the years, our kids have started to get involved. Now it’s our family thing!”

Knight finished second in fundraising this year, bringing in $1,550.

“We look forward to this event every year,” wrote Knight. “We love the people with all our hearts and we cherish the opportunity to spread the message, get more people involved, and to remember the people we love and lost, as a community.”

Charles Carbone finished in third place with $1,261 raised.

Quad Crushers

Among those participating in this year’s Skate the Lake were roughly 10 women from various California roller derby teams.

The group united under the Quad Crushers banner, and rolled across the 28 miles to the finish line.

“It’s cool, it’s a very special, unique thing, and I’ve never seen something quite like this,” said Jillian Bruschera, who raised $804 for the fourth highest amount brought in.

“Some of the girls we ride with have been here four or five years. This is my second time. We’re going to try and start making this an annual thing it.”

Bruschera, who competes for an Oakland-based roller derby team, skated the 28 miles with a backpack covered in roughly 30 ribbons, each bearing the names of individuals who have had cancer.

“It’s cool, but it’s sad too. I know most of the people,” she said.

“I know (Boarding for Breast Cancer) is teaching early detection, and a lot of young women don’t know what that is. They don’t think about it, nobody talks about it.”

Bruschera said her father is a survivor of a Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as well, and as the group of roller skaters made their way along the trails between Tahoe City and Squaw Valley, they began seeing signs posted up supporting the Quad Squad.

At first Bruschera said she believed her aunt, who lives in the area, had put up the signs along the route, but then she received another surprise as she rounded a corner along the paths.

“We were skating the trail and my dad came around the corner out of nowhere,” she said. “It was super emotional, I started crying.”

‘Stories are what kept us going’

Stories like Bruschera’s and countless others have turned Skate the Lake into an annual pilgrimage for people from all walks of life.

From parents with child seats attached to their bikes to long-haired skaters to a 4-year-old boy on a bicycle, any differences that may have been evident at the start of the day were soon replaced with sore legs and the camaraderie of having completed the 28 miles of skating.

“The stories are what kept us going,” said co-founder Curt Sterner to the crowd at the conclusion of the event. “Thank you for creating those stories, for sharing those stories, and inspiring others to want to share their stories.”

Since it’s inception, the event has attracted more than 1,300 participants and raised more than $736,000.

Boarding for Breast Cancer will next head to Los Angeles for the 12th annual Skate the Coast fundraiser, which will take place on Oct. 12.

For more information, to donate, or to register, visit B4BC.org.

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