Pink is bubblegum, and baby girls; pink is candyfloss and Barbie’s Corvette; pink is October. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a group of BC longboarders are doing their bit to raise awareness and funds to further research for a cure for this cancer. So pink is now the colour of Striker’s hair, duct-tape on helmets, spray-paint on longboards and skate-park concrete.
Riders for Push for the Cure 2009 rallied in the Hope Skate Park at 10:30 Saturday morning, while local coordinator Lori Friesen collected entry fees, pledge sheets, and waivers. Riders donned their hats decorated their shoes, helmets and boards with pink. They rode around the park while the Loco Express was getting its early morning ‘tune-up’, and a barbeque awaited riders at Cooper’s Grocery.
It warms my heart to see them all so keen to participate in this event. They could be riding for, something more related to their sport like road-rash repair month, or ankle-pin and replacement day, or Black-top for Boarders, but no; they are riding for Breast Cancer.
My son Wolfgang and the son’s and daughters of many others are giving three days and 150 kilometres highway as they push and ride their boards in from Hope, BC, into Vancouver; a long haul even for the fittest. Many of them are young men, and teens, some are young women. But all are in pink, and all are raising money and awareness for this cause.
I believe that it is important for young folks, in particular, to feel that they can make a difference and to be involved, especially in community efforts. They will get a lot out of being involved in this event, beyond the tangible, sore muscles, scrapes, fatigue, and funds for the cause. The will tighten their individual bond with the community.
The longboarding community is a special one. One that sometimes gets the raw end of the deal with some members of society, those who don’t know that this is a rising sport to be reckoned with, that it is international, that the athletes take their training seriously, and have serious fun at the same time. Rag-tag fashion, ‘special’ hairstyles and other physical adornment distract the ordinary citizen from recognizing the intact and tight community that our coastal longboarders form. This type of an event will certainly add to the public profile and soften the general impression that less informed public may have of our riders.
I am willing to bet that public perception is not even on the radar for most riders, as for them, any excuse to get together and ride is a good one. But here they are at an event that raises money for a good cause, involves camping out, and shooting the breeze for three days with other riders, while testing out other ‘set-ups’. Push for the Cure is hard work, no doubt, but should not be confuse with hardship. Far from it.
Well done, Everyone!!! See you Monday in Stanley Park.
Monday October 12th, the sky had greyed over for the first time during the Thanksgiving weekend. We had a lot to be thankful for, and the weather was the least of it, but it was great all the same. I hadn’t heard a peep from Wolf and the gang since I dropped him off in Hope on Saturday morning, and I kept my calm by thinking that no news was good news.
My patience was wearing thin as the afternoon stretched on and the sky grew heavy with cloud. A V formation of Canada geese lit on the water near the seawall. I checked my phone to make sure the ringer was on. And then it rang; it was Erian, Quinn and Hannah’s mom. (Funny how one’s identity is so closely linked to our kids—I know this all too well.) Wolf had asked her to give me a call to let me know that they’d just left the Barnet Highway and were riding down Hastings and would be in the park within an hour—right on time. I looked around… where were the waiting crowds, and TV crews to mark this arrival? Soon I noticed a van pull up, a gal in a hot-pink hat, the Push hat, and a longboard got out of the van and pushed around. We were at the right spot after all, near the Totems in Stanley Park.
Other parents, friends, grandparents and siblings were waiting along with us by the time the first safety-vested riders pushed around the bend towards the parking lot. Cheers and tears flooded the crowd. What had been clean fresh bubble gum coloured riders were now greyed over, with three days of road dust and sweat.
About fifty fatigued riders cruised in and collapsed on a grassy knoll. Hugs and congratulations flowed freely. We, all non-riders, were so proud of what they had accomplished. Over the three previous days they had all pushed far more than their boards and accomplished more than mileage. They pushed public perception beyond stereotypes of skateboarders, they pushed the coastal longboarding community into even a more tightly knit weave, and then they pushed us, the general public us, to recognize the need to participate and to donate.
Some of the big donors of the event include: Agassiz fairground bingo hall which housed them for the first night, and the Maple Ridge fairground auxiliary barn the second… A barn, of all things—we’re all animals, I guess. So much for the threat… you keep eating like an animal and I’ll send you to the barn... well, seems like the barn suited these folks just fine. Evenings were filled with music, games and slalom competitions around cones and other objects.
Some of the other donors included:
Whistler Water donated 500 bottles
Tim Hortons provided on-site breakfast both mornings
Lilydale gave 10 turkey roasts for their Thanksgiving dinner.
IGA Madeira Park donated 300 hamburgers 100 hot dogs
Safeway Mission offered a $100 food certificate
Claytons market Sechelt gave $75 food voucher
Cobs Bakery Abbotsford gave 400 buns
Sysco provided 500 plates and utensils
Bang-on gave the very noticeable 125 hats
As far as the amount of money raised from the riders themselves, the numbers are not yet in, but I do know that fourteen year old, Mike Slota, third year in a row collected the greatest amount in pledges, over $2000.00! Fantastic!
After all the riders emptied the Loco Express, they dispersed from the parking lot and headed back to their regular lives. But on the way home, my van full of riders planned for next years Push, and how excellent that one will be too. I’ve since heard folks consider this the best three days of the year. A hard thing to beat!
Cheers to all the volunteers, organizers and of course to all the riders, all of whom make this event the success that it is! What all they all have shown me, is that when you follow your passion and put it behind a good cause, the energy is contagious, and you make a difference. Keep it up!
originally published October 11, 2009 on UNKLE.ca