In 2004, the Tough Enough to Wear Pink national campaign was created by cancer survivor Terry Wheatley, who is from a professional rodeo family, along with Karl Stressman, the former director of Wranger. The campaign was designed to raise money and awareness for breast cancer by creating an inspirational opportunity for rodeo competitors and spectators to wear pink. This national campaign has empowered rodeos and western events in North America to focus on the need for a cure. To date, it has raised over $25 million for breast cancer research and patient care. Most of the dollars raised remain right in the communities in which they were given.
Today, our own Lynden Rodeo Tough Enough to Wear Pink Committee, working through the Lynden PRCA Rodeo presented by the Northwest Washington Fair Association, is one of the largest contributors to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center for cancer patient care and research. They have donated $42,000 this year alone.
That contribution is the second-highest total ever raised in the ten years of the Lynden PRCA Rodeo’s local Tough Enough to Wear Pink Campaign. In fact Jim Baron, manager of the Northwest Washington Fair, says just two years ago their contribution was the fifth largest contribution through the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign in North America.
“That’s what happens when you have a commitment to a cause,” says Baron with pride. “When you see a willingness to put in the time and effort, things happen.”
The committee, through their involvement in several events and administrative support from the Northwest Washington Fair Association and Lynden PRCA Rodeo, donate 100 percent of event proceeds directly to the Bellingham PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center. This grassroots effort has continued to grow every year through the amazing efforts of the volunteer force behind it.
The annual Lynden PRCA Rodeo, which began in 2005, takes place each summer. It boasts some of the biggest names in professional rodeo. With events such as bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, this rodeo is exciting for all who come to watch. Professional rodeos consist of two types of competition, the rough stock events and timed events. They end with the all-round cowboy crown.
Contestants, volunteers and spectators all proudly wear their pink shirts to raise awareness of breast cancer while the local volunteers conduct fundraisers for the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center. “I’m so impressed with the generosity of the people that support the rodeo,” says Baron.
An Evening at the Vineyard, held at Samson Estates Winery, is one of the key fundraising events for the Lynden Rodeo Tough Enough to Wear Pink cause. Each year, the event raises money for the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center through a special dinner including spectacular auction items.
Volunteer efforts continue, even beyond the incredible dinner and star-studded Lynden PRCA Rodeo. They also staff a booth at the Northwest Washington Fair featuring games, cowboy hats and other opportunities to support this national campaign that has become an impactful local cause.
“The rodeo and our local Tough Enough to Wear Pink committee have always been very volunteer driven,” explains Baron, who also recognizes the leadership provided by Karen Timmer. “She has been the committee chair person for the past four years and has been the spark plug to really drive the program and donations to these levels,” Baron says. “All of the money is raised locally and donated locally to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center.”
Community, one of the core values of the Northwest Washington Fair Association, is seen in the passionate efforts, commitment and impact of this local campaign. Top sponsors supporting the cause include Janele Haan and Banner Bank, Mount Bakery Rotary Club and Samson Estates Winery.
If you haven’t already introduced yourself, get to know the local committee of Tough Enough to Wear Pink, organized through the Lynden PRCA Rodeo and presented by the Northwest Washington Fair Association. Check out the rodeo and get your tickets to next year’s fabulous Evening at the Vineyard. Your contribution will go a long way in supporting our local PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center.