In 2016, almost a quarter of a million women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and of those, about a tenth will be women under 45. Those sobering stats were more than enough to convince Coco Ho, Sage Erickson and more to get involved with Battle for the Breasts (BFTB), an effort to turn things around.
"I'm fortunate, I've never experienced having someone close to me be affected by breast cancer," said Ho, a WSL Championship Tour surfer who won the event for her paired foundation last year. "Hearing the stats and learning about all the casualties and how common it actually is was shocking to me. This is a learning experience for me and now I'm awake to the cause and I'm all for it.
The Mauli Ola Foundation and Surfline, in partnership with Ambry Genetics, have spearheaded the BFTB competition. The online contest pits the world's best surfers against each other to fund research and prevention efforts by a pre-determined non-profit organization.
Who's involved: Four-time World Champion Lisa Andersen is the ambassador for the program. Sixteen pro surfers, including Ho, Alessa Quizon, Tatiana Weston-Webb and Sage Erickson, have been paired with clinics and foundations.
"Being a woman it's so important, even preventative maintenance and early detection - from going to the doctor regularly to checking yourself -- everyone can be affected by it," said Erickson. "When I think about how much my friends and family mean to me, it's motivated me to be a part of this."
How it works: The world's top female surfers will go head-to-head during October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) to raise awareness. During the month, they will compete for genetic testing vouchers donated by Ambry Genetics on behalf of Mauli Ola Foundation to the qualifying cancer clinics.
What happens and why: This contest exists to spread awareness about the importance of early detection in breast cancer. During the month of October, fans can vote for their favorite pairing of surfer and clinic. At the end of the voting period, the winning clinic will receive up to $50,000 in hereditary breast cancer genetic testing vouchers for their associated hospital/clinic. Ambry Genetics is giving away a total of $125,000 in free testing vouchers.
Take a look at the Battle's Round One video clips and vote for your favorites.