Skiing with purpose and perspective

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First Posted: 2/18/2014

Bernie Oldroyd knew she got lucky. She wanted to use her newly gained point of view and appreciation for all that was around her to help others and contribute to the long, hard battle with breast cancer.

“I was lucky that I had early detection and just needed radiation and two lumpectomies,” Oldroyd, who was an 8-year breast cancer survivor as of Feb. 1 said. “But when I was at treatment, there were so many people, so many other patients whose diagnosis was a lot more serious than mine. I just thought, ‘We’ve got to get the word out to people to be aware of this, to go for mammograms, to try for early detection.’”

Oldroyd, who is a ski instructor at Jack Frost Big Boulder, said the sport was the one thing that got her through the tough time of her diagnosis. She decided to meld her love for the hobby and her need to promote breast cancer awareness, and Ski for the Cure was born.

“That first time was a one-day event and we raised $7,500, which I thought was spectacular,” she said.

Over the years, Jack Frost Big Boulder has donated over $128,000 to the NEPA Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure through fundraising efforts and, as a result, has become the second largest fundraising event for the NEPA Affiliate of Susan G Komen. The goal for 2014 is to raise $20,000.

Oldroyd now looks at Ski for the Cure as a month-long event.

“We’ve named February our own breast cancer awareness month,” she said. “Jack Frost isn’t open in September and October when everyone else is doing their fundraising.”

There has been a table set up at Jack Frost all month long for donations and to disperse information about the disease.

There are many ways to participate throughout the day on Saturday, in addition to the tricky trays, Pink Ribbon Honor plaque sales, and selling of other merchandise. JFBB will donate $2 of every lift ticket sale sold on the day of the event to the cause.

One of the newest attractions of Ski for the Cure is the Pink Olympic timed race gates.

“We have gates, pink ones, set up just like they do in the Olympics,” Oldroyd said. “There are about eight different age groups people compete in, and they receive bronze, silver, and gold medals for the best times in each group.”

As skiers pass, they may hear a sound familiar to competitors on the slopes, and one you may have heard during the recent Sochi Olympics: bells.

“It’s a tradition in any type of ski race, to cheer people on,” Oldroyd said of their presence. Bells in pink, black, and gray are available for sale that day.

There is also the pledge Ski-A-Thon, where skiers can receive pledges from friends and family to determine how many runs they’ll do that day. A prize is awarded for the person who raised the most and did the largest number of runs on the slopes.

And that’s not limited to skiers, as Oldroyd said people who may not be into skiing can also go snow tubing and count how many runs down the tubing course they did.

However, the heart of the event is the Dedication Run that begins at 11:15 a.m. on the Lehigh trail, which is quite the sight to behold.

“Everyone gathers and takes a few moments out of this great, fun day to really think about why they’re there,” Oldroyd said, “to remember all those we lost to breast cancer, honor the survivors as well as the people currently going through treatment and even their caretakers.”

Bagpipers will play as the large group begins its descent down the slope, all skiing behind a Ski for the Cure banner, some drifting along with plaques in memory or in honor of those who are currently fighting or lost their battle with breast cancer.

“It’s a very heartwarming thing,” Oldroyd said.

She hopes events like this, where 75 percent of the money raised stays right in NEPA and 25 percent goes to national breast cancer research, can help find a cure.

“It’s my hope that in my lifetime they find a cure for this,” she said, “so future generations will not have to deal with what our generation and prior ones had to deal with.”