LPGA legend and Bayhead resident established LIFE Event for awareness, support, research in honor of Heather Farr.
Val Skinner, the accomplished LPGA player, was known for her competitive drive and inability to settle for “good enough” on the course.
Val Skinner, the tireless advocate for breast-cancer awareness, has earned the same respect and support for those traits as she has built the Val Skinner Foundation and the LIFE (LPGA Pros in the Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer) event.
Skinner, a Bayhead resident, hosted her 15th annual LIFE event this week at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, adding $500,000 to the $9 million her efforts already had raised as a promise and tribute to her friend and former LPGA peer Heather Farr, who died after a four-year battle with breast cancer. Farr, who had been misdiagnosed twice before the cancer was found, was 28 when she died in 1993.
“I’m tremendously proud of how far this event has come in 15 years and the programs we have been able to fund through the generosity of our partners and the LPGA pros,” Skinner said. “The stories shared each year by our Heroes inspire me to keep doing everything possible to help eradicate this terrible disease.”
At each LIFE event, Skinner honors Heroes who have demonstrated courage in the face of breast cancer and/or purpose to fight the disease. The 2014 Heroes were Annie Goodman, a former producer for Fox News, and Aimee Parani, a breast-cancer survivor who endured chemotherapy while pregnant with her second child.
Proceeds have helped create and support programs for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, including the development of LIFE Centers focused on education and genetic research throughout New Jersey. The foundation and the Cancer Institute also partnered to create BioCONNECT, a hands-on cancer curriculum taught in New Jersey and South Carolina schools, and BOLD, a summer camp for high school students interested in medical sciences.
“Education is so critical to the early detection of breast cancer and BioCONECT is a powerful way to help both young girls and boys understand how healthy behaviors during adolescence can translate to long-term health benefits as adults,” said Skinner. “We currently have more than 200 teachers using this curriculum and they’ve reached more than 200,000 students in New Jersey and South Carolina. Our intent to extend this curriculum into classrooms across the country.”
Skinner, the daughter of a club professional in Nebraska, grew up learning the game from her parents and working at the course they operated. She starred collegiately at Oklahoma State University, before spending 21 years on the LPGA Tour, where she won six events and was ranked in the top 15 in the world for seven years. She is a member of three golf Halls of Fame and has received numerous awards for her philanthropy and advocacy for breast cancer research. In addition to overseeing her Foundation’s work, Skinner competes on the Legends Tour, is a motivational speaker, and works as an analyst for The Golf Channel.
Skinner’s goodwill and connection to the LPGA earns remarkable support among other LPGA legends and today’s players. That support creates one of the greatest charity events in New Jersey each year. This year’s event included a who’s who list of past and present stars including Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz, Sandra Gal, Anna Nordqvist, Brittany Lincicome, Brooke Pancake, Brittany Lang, Alison Walshe, Michelle McGann, Laura Diaz, Kathleen Ekey, Laura Davies, Sarah Jane Smith, Ryan O’Toole, Christina Kim, Pat Bradley, Tiffany Joh, Jan Stephenson, Hollis Stacy, Amy Alcott, Pernilla Lindberg, and Cheyenne Woods.
Money raised through the LIFE event have also been donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which launched Komen on the Go™, an interactive educational mobile tour, and Young Women Walking, a segment of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® specifically aimed at 16-23 year olds. Supporters of the LIFE event include Amy and Joe Perella, MARSH, C.R. Bard, Genentech and EmblemHealth. Others include Assured Guaranty, Atlantic City Electric, QualCare, Cox Charity Classic, Lincoln and Gina and Michael Martin, Ken Langone, Mark Rachesky and Sandler, O’Neill & Partners.
“This is a bittersweet anniversary. While I’m tremendously proud of what we’ve done over the past 15 years, I long for the day when these funds are no longer needed,” said Skinner, a former LPGA player and golf broadcaster.
Through the years, money raised by LIFE have funded scientific research, launched early detection programs and provided clinical support for those affected by the disease. The two primary benefactors have been the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Susan G. Komen® for the Cure.
“Val has been a tireless advocate for awareness and ultimately the eradication of breast cancer and her support goes far beyond financial contributions,” said Deborah Toppmeyer, MD, director of the LIFE Center and chief medical officer at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “Her passion for educating younger women – and men – about breast cancer is inexhaustible. We are looking forward to working with her to disseminate our BioCONECT program to high schools across the country.”
“Val is a force of nature — a truly inspirational mix of vision, passion, and persistence,” said Michael J. Marion, Chariman of Trustees for the Steven A. Cox Charity Classic, which has raised $277,000 for the Val Skinner Foundation since they partnered together seven years ago. “There are few people so committed to a cause and so uniquely able to harness resources in support of it. It is my honor to be with Val for the LIFE event, and our honor at the Cox Classic to work with her.”
Skinner and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a longtime beneficiary of the LIFE event, are also exploring opportunities for future programs. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest non-profit source of funds dedicated to curing breast cancer, and has partnered with the Val Skinner Foundation to create both Susan G. Komen on the Go™, a mobile tour aimed at educating young women, and Young Women Walking, an touring event created to raise awareness about early testing among women aged 16-23. More information on Susan G. Komen Foundation can be found at www.komen.org.