Wakeboarding

Meagan Ethell lights the way for Breast Cancer Awareness

© Rob Snow
Professional wakeboarder Meagan Ethell is helping raise awareness for something that's close to her heart and she did it in the most illuminating fashion in Philadelphia, USA. Find out how right here.
Written by Holly CainPublished on
A multi-time wakeboarding world champion, Meagan Ethell is a huge talent with a passion for competition, but she also has a heartfelt desire to make a real difference in the world.
And Ethell’s bright light has never illuminated more vividly than during an inspiring night-time photo shoot along Philadelphia’s famed Boathouse Row to honour breast cancer patients.
The iconic line of buildings along the city’s Schuylkill River were outfitted in pink lights reflecting brightly into the water. It all provided a fitting and fantastic backdrop to Ethell’s ride on the board as she used the unique beauty of this scene to bring awareness to breast cancer.
The photographs of her ride along the Philly waterfront from renowned photographer Robert Snow will undoubtedly produce inspiration to last well beyond the world’s pink-infused Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, held annually each October and supported wholeheartedly by Ethell.
It’s the ultimate combination of things so important to Ethell – her sport, her love of photography and her deep desire to make a difference for those affected by breast cancer.
"The Boathouse is really unique and especially how they changed the lights [to pink]," Ethell, 22, explained, the excitement still evident in her voice days after the shoot. "It was just kind of an idea that developed into something bigger and better. It evolved and turned into a really cool project."
The fact that we were able to get the pink lights just really tells the story well
Meagan Ethell poses for a portrait at Wakefest at Center Hill Lake, Tennessee, United States on July 21, 2019.
Meagan Ethell
Wakeboarding Boat
Ethell’s boyfriend and fellow wakeboarder Guenther Oka was on hand for the shoot and – like Ethell – has returned home to Florida genuinely uplifted by the experience. It’s a feeling they hope will be shared by those who see the artistic and meaningful photographs.
"I was super-thankful to just be a part of it with Meg and being her boyfriend I’m a firm believer in the way she rides and everything she does for the sport," Oka said. "She has the opportunity to showcase wakeboarding to more people than those just our sport, to reach a broader audience and then also supporting a super-good cause at the same time really goes hand-in-hand with what it’s all about.
Take a look at the best of the photos from the shoot right here:
"The location was just unbelievable, it has to be one of the most photogenic spots in Philadelphia," Oka continued. "And the way the photos turned out too, I'd say those are probably going to be the best photos of the year and definitely the most unique."
"The story these photographs convey is one of hope and strength to those diagnosed with breast cancer and to those loved ones who support them."
I'd say those are probably going to be the best photos of the year and definitely the most unique
Guenther Oka celebrates after winning US$50,000 at Wakefest on Center Hill Lake, Tennessee, USA on July 21, 2019.
Guenther Oka
Wakeboarding Cable
It's a bright, high-impact way for this talented young athlete – a five-time wakeboarding World Champion and six-time Masters Champion – to simultaneously share her unmistakable compassion and to also inspire others.
“I think bringing awareness [to breast cancer] is really important," said Ethell, who had for two years previously, invited breast cancer survivors to join her in Florida for an October afternoon of wakeboarding lessons – a fun and thrilling escape from the diagnosis and treatment that so many faced.
An image of wakeboarder Meagan Ethell in the water at Boathouse Row, Philadelphia with a pink backdrop behind.
Ethell was delighted to have the opportunity to help raise awareness
“When I first was planning that, obviously I didn’t know much about breast cancer survivors so I was a little timid if I would have many people come out and how the women might react to all of it, but they were all so super-strong," Ethell said. “They've been through a lot, so they weren't afraid to get on the water and it was really empowering for them and myself.
"They were just really so positive and we had such great days the last two years, just really empowering times.
"They were really grateful for it and I was really grateful I just got to experience hanging out with them and I guess, getting a glimpse of what they went through and then seeing them get out there was really cool."
Getting a glimpse of what they went through and then seeing them get out there was really cool
Meagan Ethell poses for a portrait at Wakefest at Center Hill Lake, Tennessee, United States on July 21, 2019.
Meagan Ethell
Wakeboarding Boat
Ethell’s passion for this project is so strong, despite the fact that she doesn’t have any close family members that have gone through a breast cancer diagnosis. Yet she recognises the impact and challenge of dealing with the life-altering diagnosis and she decided, even at such a young age, to make a difference for those who were going through the emotional experience.
"I don’t have any direct ties to breast cancer, but I just love fitness and being healthy and being able to support women, so, I felt like this was a good cause to support," said Ethell, who's been a vocal advocate for breast cancer patients for years.
And by creating awareness, Ethell has the fortunate and important opportunity to help other young people be vigilant about their health too.
"With Meg, the way she’s gone about this project, it'll hopefully keep inspiring not just people going through breast cancer and survivors but other women to show they are fully capable of doing anything," Oka said. "Meg’s a testament to that."
And what a fitting location – Philadelphia, known as the 'City of Brotherly Love' – for Ethell’s important message of love and support to illuminate so brightly.