Eagle County Fair & Rodeo riders are Tough Enough to Wear Pink on July 21 | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Fair & Rodeo riders are Tough Enough to Wear Pink on July 21

EAGLE — Rodeo contestants are the very definition of rugged.

So when they are Tough Enough to Wear Pink, it's really saying something.

Tonight, competitors and audience members alike will paint the Eagle County Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena pink in support of cancer awareness. Wrangler is the title sponsor for the Tough Enough to Wear Pink nationally recognized campaign for rodeo and Western events. In 2016, Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the Eagle County Fair& Rodeo generated more than $12,000.

"We partner with the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, and it's really amazing that we get to benefit its patients," said Hannah Albertson, chair of the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo advisory committee. "I think its important that we give back locally."

Thirteen years in the making

The Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign is marking its 13th year this summer. Back in 2004, the campaign was created by entrepreneur and breast cancer survivor Terry Wheatley, with the assistance of Karl Stressman, former director of special events for Wrangler and the current commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association.

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Thirteen years ago, Wheatley was looking forward to attending the Wrangler National Finals rodeo in Las Vegas, as she had for many years. Her son Wade Wheatley was a finalist in the team roping event, and her husband, Jim, had been a six-time team roping qualifier. But the national rodeo excursion was clouded that year because Wheatley had recently undergone breast cancer surgery. Even though her prognosis was positive, her family history was a concern. Wheatley had lost her grandmother to breast cancer, her mother had undergone a double mastectomy before age 40 and her daughter had undergone two surgical biopsies before the age of 20.

"It seemed as if everyone I knew was affected," Wheatley said. "I felt a very strong need to somehow take action."

She came up with the idea of asking rough and tumble rodeo competitors to wear pink shirts in solidarity with breast cancer survivors. They came out in force, and a movement was born.

More than 300 Western and extreme-sport events across America and Canada now support some form of Tough Enough to Wear Pink. For seven years now, the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo has been in one of those supporters.

Everyone join in

"The Eagle County Fair & Rodeo came to us seven years ago about partnering when they started their Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaigns," said Christine Albertson, community outreach and events manager for the Shaw Regional Cancer Center. She noted that since 2012, Tough Enough to Wear Pink has contributed nearly $28,000 to the cancer center.

That money goes to help patients who need extra services, including Jack's Place. Jack's Place is a 12-room cancer caring home.

"Patients come and stay on a pay-what-you-can philosophy," Albertson said. "They can come with their caregiver. We get a lot of patients from out of town, and they might have five days of treatment. This lodge allows them to stay without spending so much money."

In the spirit of being Tough Enough to Wear Pink, rodeo spectators are urged to join competitors and don pink clothing tonight. Volunteers from the Shaw Regional Cancer Center will be on hand to distribute information and free merchandise. Even local youngsters get in on the action.

"The 4-H kids donate an animal to be auctioned off to benefit Tough Enough to Wear Pink," said Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry.

The goal is to raise a cool $15,000 tonight. Its a tough goal, but anyone willing to wear pink is up for the challenge.

EAGLE COUNTY FAIR & RODEO

Friday, July 21 — Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. — 4-H and open-class exhibits open, Eagle River Center

9 a.m. — 4-H Beef Show, Eagle River Center

2 p.m. — 4-H Large Animal Round Robin Showmanship, Eagle River Center

3 p.m. — Carnival and vendor booths open

4 p.m. — 4-H Small Animal Round Robin Showmanship, Eagle River Center

4:30 to 8 p.m. — Kids’ crafts, Tyller Gummersall Show, Festival Grounds

6 p.m. — Jam-making demonstration, Eagle River Center

7 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo, Pro Rodeo Arena

9 – 11 p.m. Free Dirt Dance with Jake Worthington, runner up from “The Voice” Season 6, Arena Stage

For more information, visit http://www.eaglecounty.us/fairrodeo.

Are you tough enough to wear pink?

Here’s how to support the Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo:

• Attend Friday’s rodeo performance. Just by being there, you’re contributing to the cause. Eagle County Fair & Rodeo will donate 50 cents for each Friday rodeo ticket sold.

• Dress like the cowboys and contestants. Show your support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink to the rodeo on Friday.

• Buy Tough Enough to Wear Pink merchandise at the rodeo.

• Go PINK at the ticket office and online: Type PINK into the discount code field online to add $1 to each Friday ticket in the shopping cart. At the ticket office, just ask to go PINK and $1 will be added to each Friday ticket purchased.

• Stop by the Shaw Regional Cancer Center booth to learn about cancer awareness and pick up some goodies.

• Drop a buck in the boot. The Eagle County Fair & Rodeo royalty girls will be walking around before the rodeo collecting donations.

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