By Michael YEGHIAYAN
Billy’s Boardshop Boarding for a Cure held its second annual event on Saturday, June 19. Held at the La Cañada Skate Park, the event was designed to increase cancer awareness among the community youth while raising money for cancer research.
By combining skateboarding with cancer education, skateboarders of all ages were given a comfortable environment in which they were able to learn more about the effects of the disease. Kaiy Smith, who helped create and organize the event, stressed the importance of bringing cancer awareness to children.
“Understanding and coping with cancer is not something that is taught in schools,” explained Smith. “Cancer is a very difficult subject to communicate to children, but when combined with something they are comfortable with, like skateboarding, it becomes a lot easier to understand.”
Boarding for a Cure was inspired by the passing of Smith’s cousin, Debbie Stratz, to cancer at the age of 41.
“I personally saw how difficult it was for Debbie’s kids when she passed,” said Smith. “I feel that there isn’t anyone out there bringing cancer awareness for the youth. I started this program with hopes of changing that.”
The event saw significant growth since its inception last year, featuring a number of sponsors including VANS, Juice It Up, and Monster Energy, among others. Proceeds from T-shirt sales were donated to the American Cancer Society. Additionally, the 818 Bar and Lounge donated a dollar for each drink purchased at an after party held later that night.
“I have always wanted to create a nonprofit event because it is a great way to contribute back to the community,” commented Smith. “I was extremely pleased to see it grow as much as it has.”
Also instrumental to the event was Debbie’s son, Danny Stratz, who was heavily involved in securing donations and recruiting participants.
“Ever since I finished school for the summer, I’ve been going to different businesses looking for donations and passing out flyers,” said Stratz. “I really enjoy this kind of thing. I’m glad to be able to contribute to spreading cancer awareness.”
This year, Boarding for a Cure also offered participants a chance to create “Deck Art,” art pieces created out of old and broken skateboards. Families were encouraged to design their own pieces in a gesture meant to represent “that although these boards, like cancer, are broken or distressed they still have a way to be restored with hope and new life.”