By Tracy Smiles
Breast cancer affects almost every single person in some way or another. We all know someone who has had to fight this evil battle. This could be a co-worker, a relative or a friend. It could be your mom, dad, brother, sister or your next door neighbor. Because, like any other cancer that is out there, breast cancer does not care what your gender is. It afflicts both men and women. Breast cancer is deadly, ugly and indiscriminate in nature.
The month of October is dedicated to the awareness of breast cancer. Everything around us seems to have hues of pink attached to it. There are many events held that raise money for charitable causes, promoting breast cancer awareness or aid.
Amongst all this activity is an event that is getting a lot of attention in the Phoenix Valley. This event is growing in participation by leaps and bounds every year. It started out with barely 100 registered participants, and closed out 2017 with well over 3,000. The event I’m talking about is called Bikers For Boobies (BFB), and was held on Saturday, October 22nd in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I got a chance to sit down with the Founder and President of Bikers for Boobies, Shelley Martin, and talk with her about this event. Below is a recap of our conversation
BFB is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that stays true to the cause by raising money that goes toward grants to qualifying parties who need funds to help them with anything from even the simplest of needs such as paying a bill or buying groceries, to help with expenses for medical bills that insurance doesn’t cover or that are beyond the means of what they can do on their own.
This grant money is inclusive to people who are battling other forms of cancer too, not just breast cancer. Cancer does not discriminate; neither does BFB. The organization started out focusing on breast cancer, but because of its success, it has been able to branch out and help other cancer patients as well, such as prostate, kidney, lung, colon, ovarian, head and neck, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and others.
The grant money is given in the form of gift cards for gasoline or groceries, for example. Medical bills are paid directly by BFB. Cash is never given to the recipients.
Another organization that benefits significantly from the success of BFB is an organization called Casting For Recovery. Since BFB’s second year, it has been donating to this retreat organization, where patients get to go for a weekend. While there, attendees learn how to fly fish, which aids tremendously in the re-teaching of muscle memory that is lost through the surgical process of mastectomy. There are other forms of therapy available as well, including group therapy. Just the opportunity to talk to other people who have been through similar experiences is a valuable support to these patients. Bikers for Boobies has been able to pay for more than a dozen people to be able to go on this retreat over the years.
For the first year, there were maybe 120 people on the run, with only eleven pre-registered. To say that Shelley was freaking out is an understatement. She was terrified because of the low number of pre- registrants. She said, “I don’t care if I only have one dollar to donate to this!! I’m donating SOMETHING!”– but it all ended up way better than they expected with last minute people showing up. So much so that they ran out of room in the parking lot. At the end party that first year, the owner of the Gavilan Peak bar came up to Shelley stating, “We have to move some of these bikes because people can’t pull into the parking lot!!” It ended up being a “very emotional and gratifying day.”
“Now we’re at 3,200 people, maybe even more!” between the riders and everyone at the end party.
There was a couple there, Annette and Ken Gray, who came up on stage at the end party, earlier in the evening, and presented Shelley with a check for about $1,000. This was money that was raised on a small ride that they had sponsored about a month prior.
You see, a few months ago Annette was diagnosed with colon cancer. She didn’t have any insurance. She filled out the grant paperwork from BFB for assistance. Then she and her husband decided to put this other ride together. Even though they had a good turnout, they realized that the money they raised wasn’t even going to make a dent in their medical bills. So instead, they went ahead and donated that money to BFB.
About an hour after this generous donation, Shelley was on stage with the rest of the BFB Board of Directors, Jack Estes (VP) and Missi Hughes (Treasurer) along with bike builders Paul Yaffe of Yaffe’s Bagger Nation and Miguel Samaniego of Lane Splitters Garage, for the bike giveaway. The bike I’m talking about is a custom designed Road King that was modified and built into a beautiful creation that put it into a sport bike category, making this a one-of-a-kind motorcycle, unlike any other.
Showgirl guests, the Flaunt Girls, were asked to be the unbiased participators to pull the winning raffle ticket for this bike. They pulled the ticket and handed it to Missi. Missi looked at the ticket and promptly stated “Holy F***’ing Sh#t!! You are never going to believe this!!” The winner of the Yaffe/Lane Splitters bike was Annette Gray. This was, in my opinion, the utmost epitome of positive karma that I’ve ever seen happen right before my eyes. This was only one of several dramatic, positive, and powerful moments that unfolded during the course of the event that day, and brought many people (men included) to tears.
Another thing that happened during the end party was that four people (Shelley being one of them) allowed the other participants to snip off portions of their hair for a monetary donation. In less than thirty minutes, over $1,400 was raised and these four daring people had new hair styles as a result!
That hair was donated to Crowns of Courage, a local organization that is in their words, “a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children overcome the fear of chemotherapy related hair loss. We provide halo wigs to any child undergoing chemotherapy, at no cost to the family.”
2018 will be the ten-year anniversary and it is already in the planning stages. If history repeats itself, it will be the biggest and best yet!
So far, BFB has provided free mammograms to 73 women, totalling approximately $7,738 in cost. They are able to provide free mammograms during their check presentations by MOM, Mobile Onsite Mammography. They’ve given over $52,000 in grants. And they’ve donated to various different charities throughout the valley totaling approximately $155,738 in the last nine years.
Bikers For Boobies has become one of the biggest rides in the valley! Another one that is on its heels is the Peace Out Prostate Cancer Ride, another event that Shelley puts on every year. The next POP ride will be April 11, 2018, which happens to be the first day of Arizona Bike Week 2018, and the first official ABW ride. POP is held in honor of her Dad, James Martin, and her Grandpa, Louis Rivetts. This event also falls under the umbrella of the 501(c)(3) for Bikers For Boobies. The money raised from this event pays for PSA blood tests for men.
Shelley found that when she tried to speak with men about this, she couldn’t get them to open up and talk about it, let alone go get this test done. She was practically begging men to get checked. Now, men are pouring in the door on days that testing is held. There are usually more men showing up than there are appointment slots available, but somehow there is always a place found for them on the schedule anyway.
When I asked Shelley why she does all of this, her reply was, in a nutshell, “I was given a second chance at life and I made a promise to God. I intend to keep that promise.”
It is such an incredible experience to be a part of these events and witness the magic that happens. These events are possible because of the generosity of all of the volunteers who show up in large numbers every year, “just wanting to help, wherever possible” Without the volunteers and the riders, all of this would not be possible. I hope to see even more people come out in April for the Peace Out Prostate Cancer ride, and I hope that October 2018 provides the opportunity for the biggest and best Bikers For Boobies ride to date!! Mark your calendars and come out and show your support! We ALL look forward to seeing you at the next events!!
More information on these various organizations can be found at:
–See more photos at www.quickthrottle.com
in the Gallery!