A milestone was reached earlier this month at the 12th Annual Wrangler® Tough Enough to Wear Pink™ (TETWP) Night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The grassroots cowboy campaign has exceeded the $25 million fundraising mark and the Gunnison Valley’s Cattlemen’s Days TETWP organization is major part of that. It was recognized in Vegas for its efforts.
The campaign was created in 2004 by Terry Wheatley, wine industry executive and matriarch of a professional rodeo cowboy family, and Karl Stressman, former director of special events for Wrangler and now Commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). The idea was to raise money and awareness for breast cancer by challenging rodeo competitors and fans alike to wear pink.
The strength of the campaign is that funds raised stay locally to benefit community breast cancer charities. It is the dedication of volunteers on the ground at local events that drives the campaign.
“More than 300 rodeos and events participate each year, with the support of Wrangler. Small donations add up to make a tremendous positive impact for families facing breast cancer and the entire community,” said Wheatley.
A notable example of the grassroots efforts is the Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo in Gunnison. A long-time Top Five Wrangler TETWP fundraiser, the Gunnison western community has raised close to $2 million over the years to support the fight against breast cancer in their hometown.
Among their goals is to make Gunnison Valley Health the number one rural hospital for breast cancer care in the United States by providing funds for services, medical equipment and support. Money raised by the campaign also financed the purchase of a patient transportation vehicle. The 2016 Ram 1500 truck, custom-wrapped in the Wrangler TETWP logo, is designated to safely transport Gunnison breast cancer patients requiring advanced treatment to medical centers outside the small community, such as in Denver. These journeys can take up to 200 miles one way over winding country roads and narrow mountain passes.
The Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo committee sent a full delegation of representatives to this year’s PRCA convention November 29 through December 1 before the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It included President Margo Patton-Blair, VP Kevin Coblentz, 2nd VP Jackson Irby, and committee members Cody Irby, Bill Knowles, Karla Rundell, Misty Sponable, and Duane Sponable. The representatives attended the seminars and classes held by PRCA, and met with national sponsors to line up commitments for 2017 Cattlemen’s Days. The networking with other rodeo committees and PRCA members and officers was essential to keep Cattlemen’s Days on the national radar of rodeo producers and rodeo athletes, moving Cattlemen’s Days closer to it’s goal of becoming the top medium sized rodeo. The delegation also was lucky enough to attend several performances of the sold-out Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, seeing the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls in each event compete for the world championships. Several of these cowboys and cowgirls competed last year at Cattlemen’s Days, including this year’s just crowned World All Around Champion, Junior Nogueira.
Also making Las Vegas were the Gunnison TETWP executive director, Heidi Sherratt, and TETWP advisory board members Cjay Clark and Michael Dawson. The Gunnison TETWP group focused on strengthening its connection with the national TETWP organization, and it’s national sponsors Wrangler, Montana Silversmiths, and Pendleton Whisky. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing Kacey Musgraves and George Strait perform with our own Dean Dillon in his Strait Out of Vegas Tour Saturday night. Dean Dillon was even shown on the national telecast of Round 5 of the WNFR with Tuffy, bringing national exposure to our rodeo and our TETWP program.
While the Las Vegas motto is “what happens here stays here” this is not the case for Cattlemen’s and TETWP, as they are bringing the high energy and ideas home to make 2017 Cattlemen’s Days bigger and better than ever.
Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days TETWP is a part of Cattlemen’s Days Inc., the non-profit, volunteer organization that puts on the Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo the third weekend of July each year, and is in it’s 117th year. This year’s Cattlemen’s Days will start July 8, 2017, with the TETWP Benefit Concert July 11, 2011, and the TETWP PRCA Rodeo July 13, 2017. All the funds raised by Gunnison TETWP stay in the community and are used for education, breast cancer screening, assistance to local patients, and to help Gunnison Valley Health acquire needed equipment. One of the goals of Gunnison TETWP is that no breast cancer patients should have to leave the Gunnison Valley for treatment. Until that goal becomes a reality, Tuffy, the nickname of a truck used to help local patients get to treatment safely, it will be used.
Published Crested Butte News
Dec. 23rd, 2016