Donations to this year’s Tough Enough To Wear Pink campaign to support breast cancer patients and survivors has topped $22,000.
That’s about $3,000 more than 2017 and $2,000 more than 2016.
Casey White-Zollman, co-chair of the local organization, said “Rope a cure” is the theme for this year and she would love to see the support in the attire of rodeo goers at Thursday’s Pendleton Round-Up.
“We’re hoping for a ‘pink out’ with the stands awash in pink,” she said. “That means a lot to the survivors to see the support.”
The national Tough Enough To Wear Pink organization began 14 years ago, and the Pendleton Round-Up jumped into participation a year later, becoming one of first rodeos to join the effort. White-Zollman said that local staying power of 13 years means Tough Enough To Wear Pink has built up some credibility. The program received a big boost this year from a new gold sponsor, she said, the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Care Foundation.
The foundation primarily focuses its efforts in the Portland area. White said the foundation was “a pretty big deal” and an important connection for Tough Enough To Wear Pink.
Justin Boots also stepped up big, she said, sponsoring “the slack after party” Tuesday from about 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the Section DD Bar at the east end of the Round-Up Grounds. The event split drink proceeds between Tough Enough and the Round-Up & Happy Canyon Hall of Fame Museum. Tough Enough received about $1,200.
“That was some really great support we received,” White-Zollman said.
The $22,000 may be the most the organization raised going into Thursday’s rodeo promotion, which delivers more donations. All of the bars in the Round-Up Grounds — the Let ’er Buck Room, the Section DD Saloon and the Strip ’N’ Chute Bar — give their tips to Tough Enough To Wear Pink.
Tough Enough in turn gives its donations to the St. Anthony Hospital Cancer Clinic and the Kick’n Cancer New Beginnings program. The clinic money covers the cost of wigs or mastectomy bras for cancer patients, and Kick’n Cancer helps survivors with personal training and nutrition, including the costs of gym memberships and fitness classes.
The campaign is not just about raising money but also about recognition. Right after the first Indian relay race at the rodeo, cancer survivors stream into the arena. This year, a new Tough Enough promotional video will play on the arena’s big video screen as they make their way. The Pendleton Round-up also will post the video on Facebook.
White-Zollman said Tough Enough contracted with long-time sponsor Elkhorn Media to produce the 3-minute video featuring local survivors recounting their cancer fight and how Tough Enough to Wear Pink helped them. She called the video powerful and the survivors brave for their willingness to participate.
“I teared up the first time I watched it,” she said.
As much as 90 percent of Thursday’s audience has worn pink in the past. If you don’t have something pink — or pink enough — Tough Enough to Wear Pink volunteers at the rodeo can help you out.