Rebecca Farm Awards $65,000 to National and Local Organizations in the Fight against Breast Cancer
Awards assist ground breaking national research and local organizations doing innovative outreach and education
KALISPELL, MONT. (Oct, 18, 2012)—Rebecca Farm has awarded $65,000 to national and local organizations in the fight against breast cancer as part of its "Halt Cancer at X" initiative that was launched this summer at the 11th annual Event at Rebecca Farm, an equestrian triathlon that attracts 500 competitors and thousands of spectators every July.
$50,000 has been awarded to a research project being conducted by Dr. Mario Capecchi, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics and Biology at the University of Utah, Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Morris Herzstein Professor in Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, and Simon Titen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in the Mario Capecchi Laboratory, Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, University of Utah.
Capecchi was a winner of The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007 for discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells. Blackburn was a winner of The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.
“The decision by the committee was unanimous to select and support doctors Capecchi, Titen and Blackburn to provide the seed money for an extraordinary research project with a $50,000 award,” said Sarah Broussard-Kelly, organizer of the Event at Rebecca Farm. “Two other local projects submitted by Dr. Melissa Hulvat will benefit the Flathead Valley community and fulfill my family’s wish to educate and support those with breast cancer and their families.”
Broussard-Kelly came up with the idea to launch this initiative in memory of her mother, Becky Broussard, who passed away in December 2010 after a brave battle with breast cancer. The initiative takes its name from the first competition in Eventing. During the dressage competition, riders halt at the ‘X’—a spot in the center of the arena—where horse and rider stop and acknowledge the judge before performing the test.
“As we moved into our second decade, I wanted The Event at Rebecca Farm to have more of an effect on a bigger scale,” says Kelly. “I wanted to find a way to bring a larger awareness to a disease that affects so many women, mothers and families. I am so thankful that the spectators and competitors joined me in this quest.”
A $5 parking donation was collected to help support this campaign. Participating competitors also raised money through soliciting pledges and a Calcutta auction. $45,000 of the funds were raised this through donations and a $20,000 grant by Montana Equestrian Events supplements the award.
The $50,000 grant for “Targeting Telomeres to Identify Novel Therapeutic Treatments of Breast Cancer” will help determine how perturbation of a single chromosome telomere is handled by human breast cancer cells. Telomeres are protective structures composed of DNA and protein that function at the end of all known linear chromosomes. Answers to this query should provide the means to more effectively manage breast cancer malignancy.
Halt Cancer at X funds will be used as a seed grant to gather sufficient preliminary data to justify submission of a five-year National Institute of Health grant that will cover the full scope of the proposal. The Halt Cancer at X funds will be used to support the research and purchase the supplies and materials needed to implement the proposed experiments.
“We are extremely excited because the generosity of Halt Cancer at X and their donors will expedite novel, innovative research on breast cancer that has been hampered by the current economic climate,” said Drs. Capecchi and Titen.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women of all races in the U.S. and, despite the increased awareness of the general public it remains the second most frequent cause of cancer related death in women. Their research is directed at identifying new more effective gene targets and novel therapeutic agents to prevent breast cancer progression by taking an innovative approach to understanding how mammary tumor cells maintain their telomeres and escape programmed cell death.
In addition to the research grant, Kalispell Regional Hospital Foundation’s “Cancer Services Video Series” was awarded $7,500 and the Kalispell Regional Hospital Foundation Paul Bass Fund’s “One2One for Cancer Survivors” scholarship program also received a $7,500 award. Dr. Melissa Hulvat, MD FACS Breast Surgical Oncologist at Kalispell Regional Medical Center's Bass Breast Center will act as an advisory on both projects.
“When receiving a cancer diagnosis, patients are often overwhelmed with emotions of fear, anxiety and stress,” said Lynn Andenoro, MHA, Manager for Northwest Oncology and Hematology Department of Kalispell Regional Medical Center. “While clinical staff support them by answering many of their questions and defining the steps in their treatment plans, it is common for patients and family members to have difficulty absorbing and retaining the information. This grant will allow us to produce a series of six five- to ten-minute educational videos to serve as supplemental resources to patients and families.”
In addition to education, healthy weight and an active lifestyle have the potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in survivors by as much as 50%. However, starting on the path to wellness is never easy—especially not alone.
“Halt Cancer at X will allow us to enroll breast cancer survivors into the One2One weight loss and wellness program at a reduced fee, helping them take back control of their own bodies after cancer,” said Christy Ewing, One2One Program Lead, Certified Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer. “Every healthy choice and every small step is an affirmation of who is in charge—the survivor not the cancer. Thank you to Halt Cancer at X for funding this life altering and potentially lifesaving opportunity.”
The awards were presented at a press conference at Rebecca Farm, near the memorial stone for Becky Broussard.
“My mother’s great vision for The Event now has another branch—one that reaches into the world of Eventing and beyond,” said Kelly. “She wanted to create this platform for equestrians in the Northwest to show off their talents. The Event was her vision, and I am honored to take what she created and make it mean something more—so that other women can continue to fight breast cancer and have the chance to build their own dreams and legacies.”