If you have done a trail run or a bike race in North Vancouver, there’s a good chance you have seen a Save Your Skin jersey on somebody; a white jersey covered with Kathy’s handprints in a yellow, red and orange palette, it definitely stands out. Save Your Skin is fortunate enough to have a community of local runners and bikers who wear these eye-catching jerseys in both Vancouver and international events, with the hopes of supporting the foundation and raising Melanoma awareness in the athletic community. The creation of the jerseys was inspired by Rosemary, Kathy’s sister. We had a chat recently about the origins of the jersey, and how an outfit has helped Save Your Skin connect to the North Vancouver athletic community.
The first thing Rose wanted to share with us was how much she loved the aesthetics of the jersey. “The jerseys are bright, colourful, and they’re full of life and energy,” she said, smiling, “Positive, positive energy.” The colours of the jersey certainly are uplifting in dark trails, and they attract attention. “It brings up a lot of questions,” Rose told us, noting that many people do trail events for the sake of a cause. “Even if they haven’t been affected by it personally, most people just want to help with anything, around any form of cancer. Because every household is dealing with that.” Skin cancer is especially present in the outdoor athletic community because, as Rose puts it, “they expose themselves to the sun a lot, by doing things they want to do.” The response that this community has had to the jersey is evidence of that connection. Rose has met several people in the trails who have gone on to purchase jerseys or become involved with Save Your Skin, and likewise she has learned about other organizations through the running community.
This is not the only way the running community has helped Save Your Skin; it was there before Save Your Skin even existed. When Kathy and Rose began to talk about wanting to start a foundation, Rose’s running friends were eager to help out. Obviously, their next step was to start, or sponsor, a run. They approached Heather MacDonald, a member of Mountain Madness and organizer of the local Phantom Run, about creating an event. She informed them that they wouldn’t be able to do much without being an accredited organization, which prompted the creation of Save Your Skin! The jerseys were designed soon after, and were first worn by Rose and her running tribe in the 2006 Phantom Run. They have since been worn in the Ironman Canada, BC Bike Race, the GranFondo, the Ride to Conquer Cancer, several Vancouver Marathons, the Dirty Duo, the Knee Knacker, the Trans Rockies run, and the Boston, Seattle, Napa Valley, Maui and Edinburgh marathons.
Rose says that her first time crossing the finish line of a run while wearing her jersey, and hearing the announcer talk about Save Your Skin, was a surreal moment. “All of a sudden I wasn’t just another participant in a run, I was linked to somebody I loved so much who was dealing with something newsworthy. It was so big.” In a position that made her feel helpless, being able to don the Save Your Skin jersey and spread the word made Rose feel like she was able to help in some way.
Rose plans to wear her jersey in every event she runs in for the foreseeable future, as the jersey connects two of the great loves of her life; running, and her sister. Running is an especially important activity for Rose, as it was the perfect distraction during Kathy’s battle with Melanoma. “Honestly,” she told us, “when Kath was sick, one of the only things that helped me through that process was being out in the middle of our beautiful forests and being able to get away for a little bit, and just sort of be reminded to put everything into perspective. You know, when you’re out in the forest, with the rivers, and the moss, and the ferns, it does put life into perspective. How lucky we are to be here, even for a short period of time.” Rose acknowledges how lucky she is to live in such a beautiful place with her frequent running, and acknowledges how lucky she is to still have her sister by wearing the Save Your Skin jersey when she does it.
Rose will be running Sun Mountain Trail run 80 kilometre Ultra Marathon in the Cascade mountain range of Washington state and also look out for the Save Your Skin jerseys in the upcoming BMO Marathon, and the Vancouver Sun Run!
Click here to make a donation to the Save Your Skin Foundation today!
Written by Taylor