Live SunSmart Aims to Raise Awareness About Sun Safety

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As the winter sweaters and snow boots get put away (hopefully!), and boogie boards and beach umbrellas replace ice scrapers and rock salt in our cars, it’s time to start thinking about sun protection as we spend more time outdoors.

May has been designated Skin Cancer Protection and Prevention Month by the American Cancer Society as a way to raise awareness about melanoma and other types of skin cancer. The goal is to encourage early detection through self-examination and yearly skin checkups by a board-certified dermatologist.

Locally, Teri L. Festa and her family created the Live SunSmart Foundation in 1993, which grew out of a tribute to her father, Ray, a lifelong resident of Montclair and owner of Ray’s Luncheonette on Walnut Street, a popular hangout for locals and those who worked in Montclair. Ray Festa died of melanoma at age 53 in 1992. The mission of the Foundation is to raise awareness about skin cancer and to encourage “sun smart” behaviors, which include applying sunscreen daily.

Montclair resident Peter King, columnist for Sports Illustrated, television personality for Football Night in America, NBC’s Sunday Night NFL Show, and HBO’s Inside the NFL, will be honored by the Foundation at its annual Places in the Sun cocktail and dinner gala, Thursday, May 15, at Maritime Parc in Jersey City. King will be presented with the Carnevale Community Spirit Award for his service to the community. Past recipients have included Yogi Berra and his late wife, Carmen, and Bill Cowher, former NFL football coach and player.

“What began as a tribute to my father has blossomed into a larger initiative to help save lives not only locally, but around the country,” Ms. Festa said.

Some facts about skin cancer:

• 1 in 7 people in the United States will develop a form of skin cancer during his or her lifetime
• One blistering sunburn increases your risk of melanoma by six times.
• Melanoma is the most common type of cancer in young adults, especially young women, between the ages of 25 and 29.

Live SunSmart consists of five groups, each designed to raise awareness within different populations:
• Team SunSmart—for teenage athletes who spend a lot of time outdoors
• Ski SunSmart—educating skiers about sun reflecting off the snow and increased sun exposure at higher elevations
• Pro SunSmart—educating professionals who deal with the public—hair stylists, personal trainers, massage therapists—about how to recognize suspicious moles
• Look SunSmart—informing people about protective clothing, sunglasses, and hats
• Work SunSmart—educating people who work outdoors for a living—landscapers, police, construction workers—about protecting their skin from the sun

Other key dates in May include Monday, May 5, designated as Melanoma Monday by the American Academy of Dermatologists, and the Friday before Memorial Day, May 23, as Don’t Fry Day, a day to raise awareness about sun safety.

Visit here for more information on the organization, its upcoming fundraiser, and how your school or organization can organize a fundraiser.

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