Steamboat Olympian raises funds to help fight breast cancer
April 11, 2012
Steamboat Springs — A Steamboat Springs Olympian plans to climb the second-highest volcano in the United States with the hope of raising $20,000 for breast cancer prevention.
Tarsha Ebbern was chosen as one of 27 women, in addition to one man, to climb California's 14,179-foot Mount Shasta in June for the Climb Against the Odds, an annual mountain expedition organized by the Breast Cancer Fund.
To participate in the climb, Ebbern, a 1992 freestyle skiing winter Olympian, has to raise at least $6,000. She has raised about $3,000 toward her lofty goal of $20,000.
Like many people, Ebbern has had loved ones die from cancer. Her dad was taken by non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and her stepmother died from breast cancer.
"It just seems to be really prevalent in my life and is coming to the forefront," said Ebbern, who has been active with Steamboat's 4 Yellow Foundation fundraisers that support cancer causes.
She said she chose to work with the Breast Cancer Fund because it is the only organization in the United States that focuses on breast cancer prevention.
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According to the San Francisco-based nonprofit, breast cancer affects more women than any other cancer. Despite decades of research and investments of more than $30 billion, the risk of a woman having breast cancer is one in eight. In the 1960s, it was one in 22.
"The survival rates are higher, but more people are getting it," Ebbern said.
The organization attributes the increase in part to increased exposure to radiation, carcinogens and chemicals that act like hormones.
Two other Steamboat women previously have participated in Climb Against the Odds expeditions, including Dr. Rosanne Iversen, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. The next year, she climbed Mount Shasta with 35 breast cancer survivors and supporters.
Patty Duke climbed Mount Aconcagua in the Breast Cancer Fund’s inaugural mountain expedition in 1995. Duke, who co-founded SmartWool in Steamboat Springs, battled breast cancer in the early 1990s.
Ebbern, who has lived in Steamboat for 12 years and works at SmartWool, said the climb will entail some technical mountain climbing that she never has done. The most challenging part she thinks will be hiking with a 40-pound pack and hiking anywhere from nine to 16 hours on the day the group summits.
To help prepare for the trip, Ebbern has been hiking at Steamboat Ski Area and is enrolled in a 10-week fitness training program with Jim Hooper, of Kinetic Energy.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com