Breastfest raising cash for cancer research

Fundraisers attracts large crowds due to its music festival vibe and family atmosphere

Chad Williams

Chad Williams

Just like any other musician in the world, Tyler Kingston, of the Vancouver-based hardcore metal band Take the Earth Beneath Us, jumped at the opportunity to play in his hometown of Maple Ridge over the weekend and playing for a good cause turned out to be the icing on the cake.

The group has been together for two and a half years but only began playing live shows two months ago, so naturally they were excited to play Breastfest; a local cancer awareness event held at Memorial Peace Park on Saturday.

The 4th annual fundraiser was put on by the United Circle of Arts group and featured live music all day, a silent auction and information booths.

In years past, the fundraiser was catered towards young adults but this year it was more family oriented with the addition of a kids zone. Roughly 800 people showed up throughout the day and although the event was free, $1,000 in donations was collected on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Kingston had supported the event for several years as an attendee.

This year he received the chance to perform a 30 minute set with his band and jumped at the opportunity.

“It was important to play this event. Cancer has touched everyone in some sort of way,” he said. “Me personally, my great grandmother died from cancer when I was really little.”

“The reason why we jumped on board to play Breastfest was to help young people realize the issue of cancer,” Kingston added.

President of the United Circle of Arts and event organizer, Chad Williams has known Kingston since high school and thought he’d be the perfect fit for Breastfest.

“Take the Earth Beneath Us is catching on pretty quickly and their fan base is growing quickly too,” Williams said. “When I checked out their Facebook page and I saw all their fans I knew they’d be great for the event. This event has always been based around music.”

Williams said the goal of Breastfest, paid for by grants from the local rotary club and other organizations, is to unite the community and to educate people on the effects and consequences of cancer.

The idea originated in 2008, after Williams’ good friend and United Circle of Arts board director Rory Speirs’ mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and beat the disease.

“We kind of thought we have to do something,” Williams said. “Just seeing how many people get affected by cancer made us feel like we should do something about it and so we thought throwing a music show would be a good idea.”

Since it’s inception in 2008, the fundraiser has grown from a small musical gathering in the park to a fun family event for everyone to enjoy.

“This year was a really big success for us in terms of making this a more family event,” he added. “The families really enjoyed themselves.”

Williams hopes to split next year’s event into two parts. One part will focus on families, the other will focus on young adults.

With Breastfest 2011 in the bag, Williams is looking forward to next year’s fundraiser and has already started contacting bands.

He says getting a head start will help ease the pain of having to find bands and sponsors last minute.

“We have a lot of planning to do. We want to put a lot more time into it for next year and make it more successful.”

• To volunteer or learn more about Breastfest, visit their Facebook page.