Debbie Wappula, a survivor of Stage III breast cancer, started inline skating approximately a year from her last surgery and active cancer treatment. Her first time on inline skates was on June 20, 2017. The skates were gifted to her by her friend Katie Stavos, who had found the pair of K2’s on Facebook for 10 dollars. Katie knew that Debbie had been a hockey coach and would adapt well to inline skating. Katie was right! Debbie began to fall in love with inline skating displayed by her (almost) daily rides.
Debbie’s first race was the 2017 NorthShore Inline Marathon, a mere 88 days after she had put inline skates on for the first time. She finished in 2:57:32, a respectable finishing time for someone who was both a first time marathoner and relatively new to the sport.
Skating for Debbie can be a calming activity where she can skate away frustrations on what she likes to call an “angry skate.” She was skating her frustrations away one day, upset about losing a friend to cancer and in pain from a recent skating accident. With all of this pent-up anger, she decided to express her frustrations in a healthier way, and Cancer Can Kiss My Skates (CCKMS) was born.
“This year, Katie and I decided we wanted to be intentional with CCKMS and make a difference in not only the breast cancer world, but also the local overall cancer community. We began to recruit friends to help us move 41,245 miles to signify one mile for every person who will die of metastatic breast cancer in the USA this year,” Debbie says.
The proceeds that CCKMS raises are donated to METAvivor and Trails to Treatments. METAvivor uses 100% of its donations towards fighting Stage IV breast cancer. Trails for Treatments is a non-profit organization based out of Minnesota that provides yearly grants to cancer patients to help off-set the expenses that cancer treatment requires.
Debbie is looking forward to skating her second NSIM. “NSIM18 will be my fourth marathon is 364 days. I completed Apostle Island in June, almost 15 minutes faster than my 2:30:00 goal. I finished Grand Forks in 2:12:05 (my goal was 2:15:00). My goal for NSIM 2018 is to take one hour off last year’s time. Next year, CCKMS will be competing in the MN Grand Prix.”