Tahoe’s Skate the Lake fundraiser for breast cancer raises $18,000
Special to the Sun
Visit classy.org/lake-tahoe/events/b4bcs-skate-lake-2016/e86062 to learn more about Skate the Lake or to donate.
HOMEWOOD, Calif. — “You’re crazy,” a lady on a bicycle tells me as I’m pushing my Lake Tahoe longboard from Squaw Valley to Tahoe City on the Truckee River trail.
It is a beautiful day and I’m a little more than halfway done with the 28-mile skate ride.
Saturday, Aug. 6, marked the 12th year for Skate the Lake, a Boarding For Breast Cancer (B4BC) event held in Lake Tahoe where participants skateboard or roller skate 28 miles from Sugar Pine to Squaw Valley and back to Tahoe City. It is a time for everyone to come together to push for a cause as well as enjoy the beautiful bike trails of Lake Tahoe.
Personally, this is my ninth year participating in the event. I remember thinking in 2007 that if I went out and joined a 20-plus mile skate ride, I would learn the sport by the end of the day.
Even though it snowed in 2007 the night before and the bike paths were a bit slick, I met new people who encouraged me along the way and have been a skateboarder ever since. I find that Skate the Lake gives me a chance to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, get a good workout in, and reflect on those who’ve been affected by breast cancer.
“Chuck Buckley and I started this 12 years ago when both of our moms were diagnosed with breast cancer,” says my longtime friend and Skate the Lake organizer Curt Sterner.
He is standing on a tree stump giving a pep talk to the skaters in Sugar Pine before the long push.
“We are all here for someone; there are times when it’s going to get hard but just keep those people in your hearts as you push through,” Sterner says.
The 60 to 100 skaters go off together as a group at 9 a.m., winding through the trees on the first leg toward Homewood. As I’m enjoying the sunshine and carving the paved trail, my friend Dave Brumm rides by.
In years past, Dave — a longtime skateboarder and Truckee resident — has skated around the entire lake; he currently holds the record for completing the full 72-mile loop in 6 hours, 4 minutes. Then he comes back the next day for Skate the Lake to do another 28 miles with the group.
This is Brumm’s 10th year of participating in event.
“I like the community and it’s for a great cause,” Brumm said. “I had an aunt that passed away from breast cancer. Obviously I love skateboarding; I enjoy the freedom from it and meeting new people every year.”
He asked me why I skate the lake, and I say that it’s basically for the same reasons. I’ve met some really cool, like-minded and compassionate people over the years, some of whom have become my best friends (I’m talking to you, Penny Pritchard).
This is also the only time I really get to see or hang out with friends Curt Sterner, Jason Knight (North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District), Doug Carbonari (North Lake Tahoe Event Center Jack of All Trades) and Dave Brumm. I also made a few new friends this year, too.
Some Skate the Lakes have been very emotional, as I’ll meet girlfriends or wives battling breast cancer and cheering on their loved ones — and then the next year they’ll be gone.
It’s hard to get attached to someone who doesn’t win the fight. But then I think about my own aunt and others who’ve survived breast cancer and made full recoveries, thanks to the monies put toward research, awareness and treatment. That’s the real reason why we fund-raise and why we do this year after year.
This year’s Skate the Lake event generated over $18,000 in donations, with special prizes going to the top fundraisers. Thirteen-year-old Katie Lyssand raised the most money of the event ($5,545) by fundraising at Safeway, the police department, and everywhere else around town. Then Lyssand came out and skated the event all on her own (passing me up on the trail).
“She’s been my inspiration,” says Sterner.
The second top fund-raisers were the Knight family, raising $1,850 for the cause. I met Jason Knight at the 2007 Skate the Lake and he has always made it a family event.
“One of his kids is 9 years old and this is his ninth year doing Skate the Lake,” Sterner said. Knight’s other son is 5 years old — the youngest skater of this year’s event.
Homewood resident Jacob Fields bailed off his board and scraped up his arm, but is undeterred from entering next year.
“I like how there’s a lot of encouragement from everyone,” the 12-year-old said. “I like meeting new people; the challenge of it.”
Fields noted that his favorite part was the last leg from Squaw Valley to Tahoe City and skating by his house in the Homewood area.
“There were a lot of cool hills,” he said.
Fields’ father Keith Fields added, “I’ve done it on a bike before, but couldn’t imagine doing it on a skateboard.”
A little while later, B4BC co-founders Lisa Hudson and Tina Basich come over to say hi and check on Jacob. Basich is a former professional snowboarder who helped design one of the first women’s pro models and won numerous big name competitions from 1997-2000, as well as being one of the founders of B4BC. She also graduated from the same high school as Keith Fields.
Although this is only the 12th year of Skate the Lake, it’s a monumental year for B4BC as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary. The Beastie Boys played at the first B4BC snowboard/music festival event held at Sierra-at-Tahoe in 1996.
“Our friend Monica Steward got diagnosed with breast cancer, which is why we started it,” Hudson says. She noted that although Steward passed away right before that first event, they are keeping her legacy alive.
Not only is B4BC keeping Steward’s memory intact, the nonprofit is also helping to connect the Lake Tahoe community. Without the support of B4BC, Curt Sterner, and all of its sponsors, there are great people who I would’ve never had the opportunity to meet.
And thank you to Clif Bar and Bai Antioxidant Infusions for keeping me hydrated and Vans for making durable skate shoes that can withstand my draggin’ toe. See you at next year’s event!
Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer with a background in marketing and journalism. Email her at email@example.com.