West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition’s 18th Annual Clam Shucking Contest

August 21, 2012By

A fundraising event supporting breast cancer awareness is a great excuse to spend a day at the beach on a random summer weekday!  I was lucky enough to be the team member from Positive Promotions to participate at the 18th Annual Clam Shucking Contest held at Surf’s Out Restaurant in Kismet, Fire Island.  It was a great day to be had by all with the proceeds going to the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition to benefit women all over Long Island affected by the disease through the “Lend a Helping Hand” program.

For those not familiar with Fire Island, it’s a long stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean across the Great South Bay from Long Island.  It’s full of quaint little towns, all of which can only be accessed by a walk from the lighthouse connected to Long Island by bridge or by ferry across the bay.  With breathtaking views and access to some of the best east coast beaches, it’s an ideal setting for vacationing and an even more ideal setting for a beach focused fundraiser.  People from all walks of life spend their summers on Fire Island.  This particular day there were over 500 people at the beach for a special reason; they were brought together to fight for breast cancer awareness and raise funds for support.

The West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition is a non-profit grassroots organization that was founded in 1992.  Their mission is “working to eradicate Breast Cancer and gynecological cancers.”  They host several fundraisers throughout the year including their upcoming Pink Flags of October, a prominent and poignant display in front of a local hospital.  For the past 18 years they have turned a common Long Island practice, clam shucking, into a fundraising contest on Fire Island; tying in the fun of surf and sand with an important cause.

With devoted enthusiasts and newfound supporters, over the years the clam shucking event has grown into a phenomenal day raising hundreds of thousands of dollars benefiting “Lend a Helping Hand.”  The invaluable program aids health compromised individuals with the chores of everyday living such as cooking, household cleaning, child care and transportation to treatment to help alleviate the stress and demands of daily life.

The main event of the day for the fundraiser was of course, the clam shucking contest.  The high energy around it for the cause it supported, event goers couldn’t help but be captivated.  Contestants were given 40 clams to shuck; the entrant to complete the task in the least amount of time was the winner.

During the contest, groups of teams rallied around their teammates encouraging them while the fast music and an MC from a local radio station, JP from WBAB, helped keep them motivated too.  Some contestants were former champions there to defend their title and others were simply amateurs out to show their support.  Some teams wore customized pink t-shirts made with team names like “Mother Shuckers” to show support in a humorous way for their competing friends and the WIBCC’s efforts.  For an event with serious contextual meaning, it was a positive environment with some friendly competition, all in good fun.  Needless to say, I never saw a crowd go wild over clams like I did at that day!

Beyond the contest, the day included so much more for the whole family to participate in.  Kids of all ages took on the role of sous chef for Surf’s Out in a corn husking contest.  Starting with their hands on their head, after being given the go-ahead, the fastest kid to husk two ears of corn wins!  It’s was a silky stringy mess but everyone was loving it and patrons were later loving the buttered corn that was sitting on their plate beside their lobster or…dare we say it, clams – baked, fried, on the half shell, however you wanted them, it was as if your clam wish was their command!

For those not interested in showing support for the WIBCC through food, other on-going activities attracted people with varied interests.  Sport enthusiasts had the opportunity to take tennis lessons for a small (well worth it) fee with pros that generously donated their time for the day.  While trendsetting women and children, opted to wear their support in their hair with pink feather extensions.  The important message of early detections was spread far and wide with free giveaways like ‘Rebel with a Cause’ pink sunglasses, silicone bracelets, pins, and more.

The WIBCC was fortunate to have hundreds of baskets donated from organizations and local businesses, like Positive Promotions.  With prizes ranging from a tree of scratch-off lottery tickets, to awareness apparel, to sports packages, and home furnishings, there was sure to be at least one basket that struck every event-goers fancy.  One generous family even donated their beach house to be raffled off for one lucky winner to have a week-long vacation at the beach.  One of the biggest prizes and a personal favorite of mine was the “Wagon of Cheer.”  It had everything you could possibly need to host a fabulous cocktail party (perhaps even another fundraiser) and the best part, the Radio Flyer red wagon that it all came in which is  unofficially the crest of Fire Island!

As the event continues to grow, more and more people and organizations want to be involved.  This may have been my first time going to the annual clam shucking contest, but it certainly won’t be my last!

 For more photos, check out our album on Facebook by clicking here

Rebel with a Cause SunglassesWIBCC Clam Shucking ContestClam ShuckingWagon of CheerSurf's Out, KismetGiveaways


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