- Charity founders are using the world’s toughest mountain bike events to create awareness around breast cancer.
- The profits from ILoveBoobies cycling apparel go directly to breast cancer screening.
- Cyclists can ride a virtual Cape Town Cycle Tour in support of ILoveBoobies.
Riding the Cape Epic in aid of Cancer Association prompted Nicky Webb and Cecil Munch to start a charity that allows woman in rural areas to be screened for breast cancer.
The ILoveBoobies charity was born and now Webb, along with a host of ambassadors, use mountain bike events like the Cape Epic and The Munga to create awareness in conjunction with a unique funding model to make a difference.
Starting with cycling socks, ILoveBoobies developed a range of cycling apparel and all the profits from the sale of this apparel goes to screening woman in rural communities for breast cancer.
What prompted the start of the charity and when?
Five years ago, we took part in the Absa Cape Epic, and used this as a platform to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. Cancer had affected a number of our friends and family, so this was top of mind when we were looking for a way to benefit others.
During the race, we were struck by how remote some of the places were. We questioned how these predominantly rural ladies were getting screened, and how well informed they may or not be, with regards to actions they could take to improve their breast health. Things like diet, tobacco and fitness.
One in eight women globally, develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, so it affected the very women we were riding past. The mother is the pillar in the family, if something happens to her, the family unit is at huge risk, and this affects the very fabric of the community.
ILoveBoobies Charity was incorporated in 2017 with full NPO and PBO Status – our mandate is to create awareness, educate and perform breast health screening services in the rural areas of South Africa where logistics and facilities are limited. Our programme theme is that early detection can save lives.
The name ILoveBoobies is slightly risqué, do you think this has been a positive factor in your success?
The name raises an eyebrow, that’s the point really, we are here to talk about breast cancer, boldly. Once you hear the name it is unlikely you will forget it.
How much money has been raised for charity since?
To date we have raised just under R2.5m and this has allowed us to screen approximately 3 800 woman.
Who exactly are the beneficiaries and how are funds distributed?
We contract the Cancer Association of South Africa to perform the screenings. They in turn contract the nursing staff and the follow through process if any abnormalities are detected and the ladies need to be referred to higher medical care.
This works best as we can attribute the fund exactly to the screenings and our ‘early detection can save lives’ program.
Do you find that the model of selling apparel has made you more successful than other charities that simply ask and rely on donations?
Selling cool and locally made apparel, has allowed us to remain sustainable when or if donor fatigue emerges, which it does from time to time. There are a lot of amazing folk out there that give what they can, when they can, all the while knowing that they are having an impact on someone’s life.
The apparel is good quality active wear which one would have bought anyway to wear whilst being active and healthy. This way one gets to show solidarity with the cause, knowing the proceeds are going to breast screenings.
What is the role of your ambassadors?
We have 154 Brand Ambassadors, 59 Men and 95 Women. Located in South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, UK, USA, Portugal and Australia. They create awareness, educate the public, promote sales and encourage donations.
Many of them use their involvement in sport or social media channels to build awareness that a healthy and active lifestyle will greatly reduce your lifetime risk of Cancer. Our ambassadors range from Olympians to ordinary folk who want to make a difference and do.
How has the cancellation of events affected what you do?
For the past three years we have benefitted enormously from the generosity of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust and the support of the cyclists during the expo.
When we heard that the tour had been postponed, we decided to launch a virtual event, so that no matter where you are in the world, you could still support ILoveBoobies. For an entry fee of R350, riders get a bike board, choice of socks or a buff and a great goody bag shipped to their door.
There are two distances to choose from and you design your own route and water points to be completed anytime on the 7th of March. There is also R20 000 in cash and other prizes to be won on a lucky draw basis.
What future plans do you have for the organisation?
We would like to see a growth of 50% per annum in the number of women we can screen over the next three years. The ILoveBoobies community will grow in numbers and we believe they will remain true to the objective.
The plan is to come out with an expanded range of apparel, which will be trendy and affordable. We are also working hard on achieving greater efficiencies within the breast screening service delivery program.
It would be ideal for the Ambassador program to grow to 1000 and reach all corners of the world. We would like to set up a distribution network in Europe in future, as shipping from South Africa is expensive.