Motorcycles and a mission: Breast Fest 2010

The Iron Skulls Motorcycle Association was formed in August 2007, after a group of friends were camping together and gave birth to the idea of a biker organization with a philanthropic mission. Photos provided

By Kathleen D. Tresemer

When you think of “bikers,” does your mind go first to Wild in the Streets or the more recent Wild Hogs: maniacs on motorcycles, terrorizing the town folk and dragging off their virgins?

Well, think again, my friends—the Iron Skulls Motorcycle Association (I.S.M.A.) out of Pecatonica, Ill., has not-for-profit status and a mission to fund-raise. Their public activities are all charitable events, and they describe themselves as “a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who love to ride together for a good cause.”

Their latest event, Breast Fest 2010, is a two-day annual fund-raiser for breast cancer research held July 23-24 at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds in Pecatonica.

Andi Sherman, the articulate and lovely Iron Skulls PR officer, exhibits a merry sense of humor as she talks about the I.S.M.A. and Breast Fest. “Women on bikes are not immune to breast cancer,” she tells me, and laughs, “Bikers love boobs, and they love to have fun! What a perfect match to raise money for this cause!”

Breast Fest is an adults-only event, causing a stir in some of the more conservative sectors. In fact, the American Cancer Society has declined to accept funds raised by Breast Fest, citing the possible concerns of their volunteers, donors and cancer patients.

Photo provided

That slap in the face did not deter Iron Skulls members, who found another worthy organization: Save the Ta-Tas is a private, not-for-profit foundation supporting breakthrough cancer research. Their fund-raising efforts are based on a philosophy that laughter heals, and they are targeting a younger demographic in their efforts. The ads are sexy, funny and feisty, designed to get younger people past their fears and into supporting the fight against breast cancer.

There’s science behind their approach, too: the National Cancer Institute 2005 Fact Book reports, “Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in young women ages 15-54.” Save the Ta-Tas partners with The Concern Foundation, another unusual organization in that about 95 cents of every $1 raised goes toward research—refreshing and astonishing numbers in this slick and jaded world.

A series of precursor events have been held leading up to this year’s Breast Fest. Area bars are co-sponsoring poker runs and girls’ competitions, with extensive air time by local radio station 96.7 The Eagle. The remote broadcasts have given this I.S.M.A. fund-raiser a jump toward their financial goal.

“We have already raised over $3,000 with these early events, and hope to exceed our goal of $5,000 this year,” Sherman says. She’s passionate about this—Andi made the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk from Kenosha, Wis., to Chicago eight years ago, raising more than $2,000 for the cause.

She reports: “I am optimistic about how much we will raise by the end of Breast Fest 2010, and I am proud to be a part of it. I’m not ashamed to ‘Fight Like A Girl’ against this disease.” Fight Like A Girl is another Breast Cancer awareness organization that targets its eponymous merchandise to a more up-beat audience.

Many I.S.M.A. members—men and women alike—have moms, sisters, wives, daughters and friends who have fought breast cancer. The mother of the association president is a breast cancer survivor and supporter of Breast Fest.

The Iron Skulls Motorcycle Association was formed in August 2007, after a group of friends were camping together and gave birth to the idea of a biker organization with a philanthropic mission. Their fund-raising efforts this riding season alone are impressive, with rides to benefit the following by month: May—Autism One; June—Carpenter’s Place Homeless Day Center; July—the Kidney Foundation; and August—Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary.

These folks aren’t trying to fool anybody—they aren’t mainstream and don’t care to be. Their form of “making a contribution to society” isn’t for everybody, and they clearly advertise their “adults-only” policy for Breast Fest on the Web site and in their advertising.

But if you can get behind the philosophy of this organization and their event, and you want to support Save The Ta-Tas and women everywhere at a weekend biker bash, Breast Fest 2010 might be your choice for fun and philanthropy this summer.

Some online resources:

→ “Breast Cancer Awareness Uses Sex to Sell Message”:

Young Survival Coalition:

Iron Skulls Motorcycle Association:

Save the Ta-Tas:

Concern Foundation:

Fight Like A Girl:

Autism One:

Carpenter’s Place:

The National Kidney Foundation:

Critter Camp Pet Sanctuary:

From the July 21-27, 2010 issue

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