Becca Skowronski and Kick It To Cancer
When she learned her mother had breast cancer, 15-year-old Becca Skowronski of Neenah, Wisconsin, barely knew what cancer was, but she knew she wanted to do something. When her mom Laurie went into remission, Becca's idea of starting a fun family event to raise funds for cancer faded away.
Four years later, her mother's cancer relapsed, and she was well aware of the dangers and fear cancer brought. And once again, she was reminded of how she wanted to do something positive.
Chemotherapy affected her mother's physical ability, so Becca decided to plan an event to promote an active lifestyle for families of those dealing with cancer.
"We wanted to show how cancer can affect peoples' everyday lives," says Becca, now a junior at UW-Madison. "My mom's always been involved in sports, so we came up with the idea of Kick It To Cancer."
With the help of Lucy Woerful, Megan Anderson, and a few other friends, Becca set out to plan a day of outdoor activities to raise money for the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
Initially, they started a student group at UW-Madison to get ready for the event and raise awareness.
"It was a great way to make connections at the university," says Megan.
Over time, the planning process became a way for the three friends to relate to each other in new ways. Each of them had a connection to cancer in her family, and each used that link as motivation. Lucy saw the event as a way to channel her energy.
"We all needed this event," she says "because it kept us thinking positively - no matter what."
When the day of the event finally came, Becca was a little nervous - but excited. In the end, plenty of families and volunteers arrived July 23, 2011 at Winnebago County Community Park in Oshkosh for sports clinics, live music and face painting.
In its first year, the event raised over $2,000 for cancer research at the Cancer Center.
Laurie accomplished one major goal - attending Kick It To Cancer's signature event. But attending wasn't just a milestone for her. Laurie knew the day was important because it was also a coping mechanism for her daughter.
"Becca can turn to her event planning binder if she ever feels overwhelmed with anything else in life. The binder, almost always at Becca's side, is part planner, part playbook, and part scrapbook," she comments.
To Becca, Kick It To Cancer wasn't going to be a one-time event - it was the start of something larger. The passion that Becca immediately found in planning Kick it to Cancer has manifested itself as a mission.
"I can see myself doing this for a long time to come," says Becca. "In the end it would be awesome to have a chapter of "Kick It" at a college in every state."
Her goals have slowly become a reality. Chapters are now sprouting up at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point, and now UW-Milwaukee. There's also a website and a Facebook page with almost 2,000 fans.
"We've been so happy with our experience at the UW Carbone Cancer Center," says Becca. "We just want to keep giving back."
Becca has other plans for the future too, as she studies to be a pharmacist.
Kick It To Cancer is now part of her identity, her soul, and her mother, Laurie couldn't be prouder. "I want her to achieve everything that she dreams," Laurie beams, "If anyone can do it, it's Becca."