Good music, good time, for a great cause |

Good music, good time, for a great cause

Many of the young people at the Boarding For Breast Cancer Snowboard + Music Festival Saturday seemed unaware that the snow had turned grey beneath their feet. Or that it was stained orange and yellow in some places, and littered with beer bottles and cigarette butts.

They were aware of why they had come.

“The music, to have a good time,” said Jennifer White of Truckee about why she had come to Sierra-at-Tahoe for the 5th annual BBC festival. “The event is fun, but I definitely think it will help people be more aware of breast cancer.”

That is the whole idea according to Michele Taggart, a professional snowboarder who has been involved with BBC since it started five years ago.

“The kids come out for the music and snowboarding but then there is so much information and so many people talking about (breasts) all the time that they can’t help but learn something,” she said. “Maybe that can save a life.”

BBC was created after the death of Taggart’s close friend Monica Stewart, a prominent snowboarder who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 28 years old. She died less than a year later.

“Everyone has their own reasons for coming out, but for me it is in the memory of my friend,” Taggart said. “When I think of (BBC) it is for her.” All of the money earned at the event – through ticket sales, donations, and a silent auction – is donated to breast cancer awareness and research projects. In the last four years, BBC has raised $400,000 and hosted concerts by artists such as the Beastie Boys and Blink 182.

This year’s headliner was Mos Def, a talented rapper who drew smaller crowds than previous events.

Organizers estimated that 2,500 people attended the Saturday festival. Proceeds raised by this year’s event were not available Sunday.

“What started out as a simple one-day snowboarding event to raise money and awareness has developed into a nonprofit foundation with a larger mission,” said BBC co-founder Kathleen Gasperini. “We want to make people aware that BBC stands for much more today than it did four years ago.”

The artists also talked about breast cancer, sometimes graphically. One of the members of The Pharcyde leeringly told women to think about their breasts, but they and Del The Funky Homosapien did praise the event.

“We are a resort that likes to give back so it helps keep us feeling warm and fuzzy,” said Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Ben McLeod

Ruthann Shelby of Barton Memorial Hospital agreed. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago and now performs mammograms.

“I got it when I was very young,” said Shelby, who was one of dozens of breast cancer survivors wearing pink baseball caps at the event. “Back then it was not as open, there wasn’t as much awareness or education as there is now.”

She was encouraged that BBC targets young people and said, “If you catch breast cancer early there is a 98 percent survival rate.”

“I didn’t think about breast cancer when I was 12 or even 19,” said Barrett Christy, one of the best snowboarders in the world. “I think a lot of young girls look up to snowboarders and it is important to educate them about how to protect themselves.”

Among the young people there to learn were several teen-agers attempting to drink or use drugs despite the large number of law enforcement officers at the festival. A handful were caught with alcohol or marijuana Saturday, according to Sgt. Jim Watson of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department

Two juveniles were arrested for allegedly trying to steal seven snowboards from a Burton Snowboards’ booth and were both in possession of marijuana.

Putting up with troublemakers and the mess left by the crowd was worth it according to Ben McLeod who said, “It is a lot of work, but in the end it is a lot of fun, and is for a great cause.”

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