Paint for Peaks Fundraiser in Taos Ski Valley Raises Breast Cancer Awareness from 10,000 feet.

By Nina Anthony, Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Taos Ski Valley Paint for Peaks LogoIn 2013, breast cancer claimed nearly 40,000 lives in the U.S. alone. This Saturday, you can make a difference as you celebrate those who have survived the disease, honor those who have lost their battle, and most importantly, raise funds and awareness to help save lives. Join the fight against breast cancer by participating in Paint for Peaks, one of the most popular and worthy charity events in Taos that’s a perfect fundraiser for a community famed for both its art and its steeps.

Riding on the success of three previous years, Taos Ski Valley and Studio Karina are joining forces once again on Saturday February 22, 2014 to host a fun-filled day on the slopes that actually combines two unique fundraising events: the K2 Bumps Challenge and the Paint for Peaks Snowboard Art Auction. Proceeds from both events benefit Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) a youth-focused foundation whose mission is to increase awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection, and the Anita Salas Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance for breast cancer services to help New Mexican women afflicted with the disease.

The K2 Bumps Challenge kick starts the fundraising with a skiing/snowboarding competition where individuals or teams of two win prizes and raise money based on the number of times they’re able to ski or ride down Taos Ski Valley’ famed Al’s Run within a four-hour period. Skiers/snowboarders of any age or gender are welcomed and kids are encouraged to participate. Registration is open up to 8 a.m. on the morning of the event.

Felix Vigil and Addie Dore are among the 21 artists who have contributed original works for the 2014 Paint for Peaks breast cancer awareness fundraiserAfter the K2 Bumps Challenge, race participants and their supporters, locals and visitors, art lovers, families, and other members of the community who have come together for a common cause, will converge in the Martini Tree Bar at 4 p.m. for the awards ceremony, raffle prize giveaway, and silent auction for one-of-a-kind painted snowboards. This year, 21 artists have contributed boards for the event – more than any other year. The list of participating artists includes contributions from an impressive list of renowned local and regional artists including Jack Smith, Jim Wagner, Randal LaGro, and Felix Vigil, a Jemez Pueblo native whose contribution “Songs of Life” is pictured on the right next to the “Praying Hands” contribution by emerging artist and avid snowboarder, Addie Dore.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 in 8 American women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Given those statistics, it’s not surprising that many of the artists participating in the event have a personal connection to the disease that has inspired them to participate in the cause.

Felix Vigil commemorated his two-sided contribution “Songs of Life,” to his grandmother and mother who were both taken by cancer. “They were two of the most amazing, wise, caring, supportive, funny, and influential women in my life. They are now in the Realm of the Sacred and they nurture my very existence daily.”

Randall LaGro, who created the only three-dimensional work for the auction, was personally impacted by breast cancer when a close friend was diagnosed with the disease in 2013. “This last year a dear friend of mine went through the battle and surgeries and all the anguish that goes with breast cancer, says Randall LaGro. “She has done amazingly well throughout it all and was definitely an inspiration for my piece this year, a found object assemblage that’s a bit of a homage to the sculptress, Louise Nevelson.”
Paint for Peaks original snowboard by Randall LaGro

Artist Greg Moon has painted a snowboard for four of the five Paint for Peaks events. He says he participates in the fundraiser to pay tribute to his mother-in-law who lost her battle with cancer 15 years ago. “She was the most giving and unselfish person I have ever known. What little I can do to honor her memory makes life without her more bearable, but never whole,” says Moon. This year, Moon’s design was inspired by the Winter Olympics. “I thought it might be fun to do something along the stars and stripes variety. Thus, this year, “Starboard” became my finished piece.”

Karina Armijo, owner of sponsor Studio Karina, has a personal connection to the disease that motivated her to get seriously involved in the cause. “Six years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and given three months to live. Living across the country from her, I often felt like wasn’t doing enough to help her through the challenge. I decided volunteering my time to educate women about breast cancer was something I could do for my family, for my community, and for myself. Six years later my mom still drives herself every three weeks to the Cancer Center to get chemo treatments. She’s a pretty tough lady.”

Karina Armijo of Studio Karina registering a K2 Bumps Challenge participant
Karina Armijo of Studio Karina registers a participant for the K2 Bumps Challenge.

According to Armijo, Paint for Peaks has been a personal investment of heart and dedication from a handful of people who worked together to get it through the growing pains and turn it into an event the community looks forward to every year. “I had a great partnership with Alejandro Blake of TSV and with K2. They were committed from the very beginning. They embraced this event as something unique to raise money for a great cause and never wavered in their support,” says Armijo. “I’m also eternally grateful for the remarkable support we’ve received from the entire community. We couldn’t do this without everyone’s help – from the volunteers who donate their time to the artists who donate their art and the people who buy it.”

Over the past four years, Paint for Peaks has raised more than $60,000 for B4BC and the Anita Salas Memorial Fund. “This year, I would love to break the $30,000 mark,” says Armijo. We’ve come so close the last two years. It’s a big number, but you need to have big goals.”

The highest winning bid for a board to date was $4,000. But with minimum bids starting at $250, it’s a great opportunity to purchase a unique work of art at a great price for a good cause. So, head up the mountain this Saturday and join the fight to raise awareness to help prevent breast cancer deaths and raise money to help save lives. If you can’t make it to Taos Ski Valley to contribute to the cause in person, you can always make a secure online donation right now.

Visit the Paint for Peak website for more information and complete schedule of events.

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