Read about Val Skinner's involvement with Breast Cancer Awareness.
How has breast cancer affected your lifeand how did your efforts for Breast Cancer Awareness start?
I lost my close friend, Heather Farr to breast cancer at the young age of 28 as well as two other friends under the age of 35. After personally experiencing these tragic losses from breast cancer, I made a commitment to try to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer with a focus on young women.
I established the LIFE (LPGA Pros in the Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer) Event coordinated annually by my Val Skinner Foundation. The first LIFE Event was held in 2000 to bring together pros from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and research programs.
This year was the 10th anniversary LIFE Event, which continues to hold the distinction of raising the most money for breast cancer research and education in a single-day golf event ($500,000 each event). The LIFE Event has raised more than $5.6 million for breast cancer research, awareness and prevention programs since it was established.
How has the support been from other players on Tour for your LIFE Events?
Over the past decade, the LIFE Event has drawn participation from more than 65 pros representing 14 countries. The 2009 event united LPGA pros representing countries including the United States, Sweden, England, Finland, Australia and Scotland in celebration of the event's tenth anniversary. This year's field, as with all LIFE Events, was a list typically seen only at major LPGA tournaments with a collective 150 total victories and 89 international wins among participating LPGA pros.
The LIFE Center at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey (founded in 2002 and named after the advocacy of LIFE) has offered support and guidance to LPGA family members and pros during personal encounters with breast cancer over the years. The LIFE Center at CINJ is a comprehensive, on-site program designed for individuals and families who are at risk of developing breast cancer. The center houses a multidisciplinary team of medical oncologists, surgeons, genetic counselors, nurse practitioners, social workers, psychologists, and other health care professionals to help address the specific needs of young breast cancer patients.
What do you want to achieve with the Susan G. Komen On the Go™ and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey?
Because I share a common goal of eliminating breast cancer as a life-threatening disease with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, together we created the young women's initiative — a multifaceted approach to educating young women and other audiences about the risks associated with breast cancer and the importance of early detection.
For a decade, LIFE has supported these organizations and the Young Survival Coalition. And, each year these organizations with support from the Val Skinner Foundation and LIFE to continue to develop innovative breast cancer programs, driven by the young women's initiative.
Komen on the Go™, in its sixth cross country tour this fall, consistently educates young women and men on the importance of breast health awareness, offering a call to action along the way for others to join the breast cancer movement.
The 2009 college tour is expected to surpass last year's reach with an estimated audience of 4 million and thousands of giveaways to participants.
After establishing the LIFE Center, five satellite LIFE Centers and multiple breast cancer related fellowships, as a part of the center's continued effort to support the young women's initiative CINJ launched the BioCONECT fellowship program. Partnering with the Center for School and Community Health Education at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Public Health, the BioCONECT program targets high school students with an age appropriate breast cancer/cancer curriculum.
Four BioCONECT teacher workshops were held during the 2008-2009 school year, two in South Carolina and two in New Jersey. Sixty-six teachers, representing 12 districts in the public and private sectors, attended the workshops.
The hands-on format used in the BioCONECT workshops allowed participants to experience the curricular materials as both a student and a teacher. Through working with the materials, discovering how the lessons and activities are interrelated and built upon one another, teachers are prepared to introduce the BioCONECT materials in the classroom.
LIFE also supports a grant from the Young Survival Coalition funding programs that are focused on adjuvant and metastatic breast cancer treatments for young women.
What are your goals for the future with breast cancer research/awareness?
Looking back at where we started and how much we've grown with LIFE serves as motivation to continue our diligent fight against breast cancer. Every step moves us forward and makes a difference.
My hope is that as others follow LIFE's lead in the breast cancer fight for young women, the young women's initiative including Komen on the Go™ and the LIFE Center and satellites' work and fellowships will continue to grow.
How does it feel to have raised more than $5.6 million for this cause?
While I am extremely proud of what LIFE has accomplished in the past decade, I know that we still have much work ahead in the fight to eradicate breast cancer.
Is there anything you want to say to people that might be going through breast cancer?
The LIFE family stands with you. Your life and your journey serve as inspiration and motivation for LIFE to continue to fight breast cancer, driven to find a cure.