Team SunSmart Program -
The Live SunSmart Foundation (formerly the Ray Festa Melanoma Foundation) is committed to educating everyone 12 years old and up on the importance of being “Sun Smart”. Our message is simple. We advocate that everyone should have fun in the sun, through sports and other outdoor activities, but should take precautions when doing so. We consider the ourselves a “lifestyle” foundation different form other medical research organizations that raise monies to fund bench research.
The Foundation’s message is to encourage one and all to take good care of their skin by
Melanoma is the most curable form of cancer when found early so with increased education and awareness, we WILL save lives.
The Live SunSmart Foundation conducts programs dedicated to enlightening everyone on the importance of early detection and the prevention of skin cancer. Melanoma is not limited to adults. Unfortunately, melanoma strikes people as young as 12 years old. Knowing this, we have free skin cancer screenings conducted at local high schools to target our youth and make them aware, early in life, of the impact of unprotected sun exposure. Our first event was in May (Melanoma Awareness Month) of 2009 in Montclair, NJ and we intend to launch a National Skin Cancer Screening program in the near future.
Ray Festa died as a result of melanoma in 1992. We took our unfortunate story and formed The Ray Festa Memorial Foundation to not only honor his memory, but to help save others from his regrettable fate. He displayed the typical male behaviors who are less likely to get screened so sadly he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma too late to save his life. What makes the story even more unfortunate was that he had been seen by an oncologist every 6 weeks for the last 8 years of his life and had that medical practitioner been more aware of the signs of skin cancer, Ray may still be alive today. It is for that reason that much of our work is dedicated to educating all those who are exposed to our skin about the warning signs of possible skin cancers. We do this through our Pro SunSmart program. These people can be our first line of defense and include masseuses, physical therapists, personal trainers, hair stylists, barbers and others.
Since its inception in January of 1993, the Live SunSmart Foundation has contributed to numerous organizations involved in clinical cancer research, children’s charities and has bestowed annual college scholarships to deserving Montclair High School students. The organization remained active in fundraising events and charitable giving for nine years until the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Yielding to what we considered a more immediate need, the RFMF went dormant except for continuing the annual Scholarship award.
In 2008, the RFMF re-emerged with a new name and a laser-targeted mission focused on melanoma and committed to Saving Lives Through Awareness.
In 2013, we changed our name once again to Live SunSmart Foundation. There is no doubt that Ray Festa was the reason for the formation of our foundation and that will never change. The new name seemed like the natural choice because the brief phrase captures the essence of everything we are trying to do and it will allow us to collaborate more successfully with other skin cancer organizations. We want to promote and encourage ways for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors, live a life that is compatible with the sun, but just to do so in a SunSmart way.