SUP Women: Standup for the Cure co-founder and pro SUP mom Shawneen Schweitzer

For the next seven weeks, we will be highlighting seven inspiring ladies who have made an impact in our sport. This is part of our feature, Real Talk, which originally ran in our 2016 Women’s Issue. 

We have a surf school called Maui Sports Adventure and on Wednesdays I have a women's SUP day. I bring boards down for anyone my age that wants to go paddling.

I met Judie Vivian one of those days. The following week she came down again and we did that for two or three years and became very close. One Wednesday she wasn't feeling very good and didn't want to paddle. The following Wednesday was the same.

The third Wednesday I went to give her a hug and she backed away. She teared up and said she was a proper British woman who doesn't talk about (personal) things and then said, "I have breast cancer and just got a mastectomy."

We talked about doing something to raise awareness and came up with the idea for Standup for the Cure just sitting there. We knew we had to hire someone to run it, because we're not event organizers. We met up with Dan Van Dyck and told him what we wanted to do. He was onboard from the beginning.

Judie, who had run a huge business, had a lot of connections in the medical community. So she pitched her doctor and he wanted to be a part of it. People just went on their enthusiasm.

Zane came up with the idea for breaking the Guinness World Record for most people on the water at once and that brought more people out. We ended up having 1,000 people register, raised $125,000 (the original goal was $35,000) and 100% went to Susan G. Komen (Foundation) and was ear-marked for uninsured patients going through cancer. We officially had 417 people on the water for the record and nobody has broken it.

At the event, we had a cancer screening for both breast and skin cancer, because my husband had melanoma. So far we've undoubtedly saved 14 people's lives through screening. It's been amazing to see people you actually know and care about and be part of saving their life.

It's one of those things in my life, other than my children, that I am most proud of. Not many people can say they raised a million dollars for people who need it the most.


Learn more about the 2017 Standup for the Cure.

See what major competition her son, Zane Schweizter, recently won.