KALISPELL — Over the past five years, Rebecca Farm’s effort help fight breast cancer has contributed more than $400,000 to national breast cancer research and to help local people fighting their own battles against the disease.
Applications for this year’s round of local grants are due Monday, Oct. 2.
Established in the memory of The Event at Rebecca Farm’s founder, Rebecca Broussard, her daughter, Sarah Broussard launched Halt Cancer at X in 2012. The fundraiser is part of the annual event that draws top competitors to Kalispell for the largest equestrian triathlon in the United States.
The fundraiser’s name comes from the dressage test, where the first movement of the rider is to halt the horse at X, a station marked in the arena.
Broussard said the success of the fundraising effort is a testament to both the support the equestrian eventing community had for her mother and the far-reaching impacts of cancer into almost everyone’s lives.
Broussard reached back into her childhood for the initial idea of creating the fundraiser. As a young person, she participated in a fundraiser called Jump Rope for Heart that involved participants going out and getting sponsors.
In the first year that she established the new fundraiser, the riders participating at the Rebecca Farm event raised $50,000. Since then, the event also has added fees collected from visitor parking and patron fees to the monies raised to battle breast cancer.
“Every year, I’m awed by two things,” Broussard said. “One is that the Event continues to grow beyond my expectations. Whether it's numbers or quality or community support, each year I think we’ve made it to the top and that it is the best it can ever be. And then next year rolls around and we’re even better.”
Broussard has seen the same thing happen with the Halt Cancer at X fundraiser.
“I’ve been extremely awed and humbled by both the eventing and my local communities’ willingness to get involved with this important effort,” she said. “They are both close knit and caring communities.”
When she first came up with the fundraising idea, Broussard felt confident the equestrian eventing community would get involved in memory of her mother, who died of breast cancer.
But she’s seen that’s gone far beyond that.
“I think that’s happened because everyone has some connection to cancer, whether it's their parents, siblings, friends or family. Everyone who has been touched by this disease has the same mentality. It needs to be eliminated and they are willing to do what they can toward that goal.”
The first year, all of the proceeds were donated to organizations focused on research.
Since then, as the local community rallied to the cause, Broussard decided it was important that a portion of the funding be used to help organizations that are reaching out to help people in the area affected by breast cancer.
“We have had a lot of amazing people involved in Halt Cancer at X and that’s allowed the money to filter down into so many good programs that are happening right here,” she said.
For instance, the Save a Sister program was a first-time recipient last year. That organization has established a screening and support system for people with a high risk for breast cancer.
“They help ensure that people receive proactive care in hopes of preventing cancer,” Broussard said. “Early detection is the key. In the early stages, breast cancer is very treatable.”
Other local organizations that have benefited from the funding raised at the annual equestrian event include Cancer Support Community Kalispell, Flathead Cancer Aid Services and Flathead Valley Cancer Chicks.
In 2016, Halt Cancer at X also awarded $70,000 to national organizations, including the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where research headed by Dr. Robert Mutter seeks to develop a new combination of therapies for those affected by Triple Negative Breast Cancer, which is considered one of the most deadly subsets of breast cancer.
National grant requests are due by Jan. 1, 2018. For more information on how to apply, visit rebeccafarm.org/halt-cancer/#how.
Local grant recipients will be announced later in October in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.