Former Cocoa Beach Resident and Melanoma Survivor Mikki Kragelund Cycling Across New Zealand in Support of the World Skin Cancer Foundation

19 January 2012

COCOA BEACH, Fla. (January 12, 2011) – Former Cocoa Beach resident and melanoma survivor Mikki Kragelund, and her friend Nina Oosterveer, started a journey of a lifetime on January 12th – one that could literally be a life-saving exercise for so many others – with a two-month cycling trip across New Zealand to raise awareness for skin cancer prevention and funding for the World Skin Cancer Foundation (WSCF).

Sunny Cyclers

Former Cocoa Beach resident and melanoma survivor Mikki Kragelund, and her friend Nina Oosterveer, have started a two-month cycling trip across New Zealand to raise awareness for skin cancer prevention and funding for the World Skin Cancer Foundation (WSCF).

The impressive trek appropriately began on Kragelund’s 26th birthday and roughly one year after her final treatment for melanoma, which is the deadliest of all skin cancers. The duo, which has taken on the name of “Sunny Cyclers,” started the ride in Cape Reinga, at the tip of New Zealand’s North Island, and plan to finish on March 12th in Bluff, the southernmost point of New Zealand’s South Island.  Supporters can follow the ride’s progress and make donations at www.sunnycyclers.com or directly contribute to the fundraising campaign by following this donation link.

While the more than 2,400-kilometer adventure will take every bit of the two months to complete, the journey itself represents so much more to Kragelund.  She was born in Denmark and currently lives in Queenstown in New Zealand, but Kragelund considers Cocoa Beach home.  Her family moved to Florida when she was a young child and she grew up in Cocoa Beach, enjoying the ample outdoor activities for which the Central Florida seaside town is famous.

From the time she was young, Kragelund recalls her parents emphasizing the importance of travel, staying active and appreciating the outdoors.  Spending time sailing, scuba diving, boating and surfing with family and friends was the norm throughout her childhood and it was, ironically, her close bond with her family that played a role in diagnosing her skin cancer.

Kragelund’s uncle is Southern California based dermatologist Dr. Bill Heimer who repeatedly urged his niece to get a skin check-up during family visits. When she didn’t, Dr. Heimer scheduled an appointment on his own for Kragelund and the end result was a diagnosis for stage-3 melanoma.

Kragelund was 24, just shy of graduating from college and ready to start the next chapter of her life.  Instead, she tackled her melanoma head on and, after numerous visits to the doctor, 14 different biopsies and one major surgery, Kragelund graduated, was free of cancer and is now a vigorous advocate for the awareness and prevention of all types of skin cancer.

She met Oosterveer, 24 and a native of Holland, soon after moving to New Zealand.  The two women have lived in Queenstown since April and got to know each other working at the same restaurant.  Their mutual love of the outdoors created a quick friendship and they soon came up with the idea of a journey to draw attention to the global skin cancer epidemic.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand and the fastest growing type of cancer in the United States.  Kragelund was familiar with the World Skin Cancer Foundation, which is headquartered in Cocoa Beach, and the Sunny Cyclers mission was born.

If Kragelund’s melanoma had remained undetected for a few more months, her chance of survival would have fallen to less than 10 percent.  She and Oosterveer hope that spreading the word about Kragelund’s story will encourage others to get regular skin check-ups while still enjoying sun-safe outdoor activities.  For the next two months, two dedicated and selfless “Sunny Cyclers” will be doing just that in New Zealand while supporting a truly worthy cause.

About the World Skin Cancer Foundation
The World Skin Cancer Foundation is a not for profit group which was founded in Cocoa Beach, Florida, to educate the public regarding the detrimental effects of unprotected sun exposure. Outdoor activities are increasingly popular and contribute to healthy lifestyles and the prevention of disease. To most effectively reduce long-term sun damage to the skin while enjoying these pursuits, healthy habits of sun protection need to be established at a young age and continued throughout life.

The WSCF is dedicated to promoting skin cancer awareness while encouraging everyone to enjoy a sun-safe outdoor lifestyle. Over one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year and over 10,000 people die from skin cancer annually.  The organization emphasizes SAFER sun enjoyment and tools to allow beneficial outdoor activities in moderation with sun protection. Through sponsored sporting activities such as surf contests and skateboard exhibitions, softball games and cycling and running events, sun protective practices will be demonstrated and emphasized.  Free skin cancer screenings are offered as a public service and to provide those without access to medical care an opportunity to be examined and educated. Finally, through promoting the incorporation of UV awareness education into school curriculums and programs, an effort will be made to inform the youth about sun damage and change cultural views of sun exposure and tanning.

Contact: Adam Saal, World Skin Cancer Foundation: 321-890-2848 – SaalGoodPR@gmail.com

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