Breast cancer group bringing message to X Games |

Breast cancer group bringing message to X Games

Stewart Oksenhorn

With 720s to nail and rails to ride, mouth-watering ramps to jump and gates to bash, probably the last things on the minds of the young, fit snowboarders coming to the X Games next week is breast cancer.But the snowboarding community had a startling awakening to its own mortality nearly 10 years ago. Monica Stewart, a snowboarder and co-founder of the snowboard clothing company Bonfire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. Stewart was just 29 when she died three years later.Two fellow members of the snowboarding community, Olympic medalist Shannon Dunn and fellow competitor Tina Basich, decided to mix activism with their mourning. Frustrated by the lack of information on breast cancer available to young people, they formed Boarding For Breast Cancer – or B4BC – to help educate young women – and men – on the threat of breast cancer and other diseases.”Monica felt very isolated and alienated and alone, because she was in a hospital bed, lying next to women twice or three times her age,” said Justine Chiara, who became the executive director of B4BC in 2002. “And she had been misdiagnosed three times, told she was too young to have breast cancer.”So the girls decided they needed to do something.”The first thing the organization did was establish the Snowboarding and Music Fest at California’s Sierra at Tahoe ski area. The first event featured the Beastie Boys; subsequent events featured Moby, Linkin Park and the Foo Fighters. Money raised was given to the Breast Cancer Fund and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.The organization discontinued the festival in 2002, but it has only raised its profile. It ditched the once-a-year event in favor of a more continuous and mobile presence, bringing its traveling informational booth and events to surfing, skateboarding and music events across the country.B4BC will be hard to miss for extreme sports fans and music lovers during the upcoming X Games. The organization’s education booth will be on-site at Buttermilk during the competitions and will be the beneficiary of a host of events around Aspen over the course of the games.On Thursday, Jan. 27, local retailer Polar Revolution, snowboard maker Burton and surf-and-skate equipment company Volcom will present an opening party at the new Belly Up club. The event, the opening night for Belly Up, will feature music by cover band Danger Kitty and the raffling of a Fender guitar. There is a suggested donation of $10.On Jan. 28, following the women’s slopestyle competition, snowboarder Tara Dakides will present a donation to B4BC from sponsor Campbell’s Soup.A nighttime event on Jan. 30 at the Wheeler Opera House will feature a screening of “A Brokedown Melody,” a new surf film by the Malloy Brothers. The film will be preceded by a showing of the new G. Love & Special Sauce video “Booty Call.” During the reception prior to the screening, songs from the new Jack Johnson CD “In Between Dreams,” will be previewed. Johnson contributed tunes, including the title track, to “A Brokedown Melody,” and he is among the surfers featured in the film. Several surfboards will be raffled off at the event.The Jan. 31 closing party at Belly Up will feature a performance by G. Love & Special Sauce. Love, the blues/hip-hop singer and guitarist, was already scheduled to be in Aspen as a special guest commentator for ESPN during the X Games.Tickets for the Jan. 30 film screening and the G. Love concert go on sale at the Wheeler box office tomorrow morning.Love, a surfer, snowboarder, skier and avid sports fan, performed at the Summer X Games in Los Angeles last year. While being interviewed, the conversation wandered from music to surfing.”And the producer said, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good at this,'” said Love from Los Angeles, just before heading to a shoot for an appearance in a video by fellow musician Donavon Frankenreiter. Love was soon signed up to commentate at the Winter X Games, where his exact duties are a bit of a mystery to him. He has heard talk that he’ll interview slopestyle and halfpipe icon Shaun White.”They’ll just work me into a couple of segments,” he said. “And if I do well, I’ll continue to do more. I think the idea is to get to Aspen and see what happens.”Rounding out the B4BC events is the Action Sports Athlete Art Expo, with artwork from 40 athletes on display at Zélé, Café Ink and Starbucks from Jan. 26-31. The work will be sold through silent auction, and five of the pieces will be featured in the X Games preview issue of ESPN The Magazine. Visitors to the website will be able to vote for their favorite pieces; the top vote-getters will become limited-edition T-shirts, and sales of the shirts will benefit B4BC.”Young women, young men come to these sporting events and the last thing they expect is to be spoken to about breast cancer,” said Chiara, whose mother died of the disease three years ago. “But the X Games have proven to be an invaluable venue for our educational outreach efforts.”Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is

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