Eagle County Fair & Rodeo’s eighth annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink night is Friday, July 27 | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Fair & Rodeo’s eighth annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink night is Friday, July 27

EAGLE — No one doubts the toughness of rodeo competitors, but at the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo on Friday, July 27, rugged cowboys will play tribute to folks who are every bit as tough as they are — breast cancer patients and survivors.

For the past eight years, the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo has been part of Wrangler's national Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign for rodeo and Western events. Since 2012, the program raised more than $45,000 locally for Shaw Cancer Center.

"Vail Health has been a proud supporter of the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo over the years," Vail Health President and CEO Doris Kirchner said. "Many locals and second-homeowners in our valley have received treatment at our Shaw Cancer Center, and it is wonderful to be able to come together on this fun evening, show our spirit in pink and raise funds for the cancer center and those who need our services.

"We are grateful for the support the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo and our community have given Shaw over the years."

Kirchner noted support from the Tough Enough to Wear Pink event helps to ensure every patient treated at Shaw Cancer Center has access to state-of-the art diagnostic and treatment equipment, as well as the opportunity to participate in the Spirit of Survival program. This comprehensive wellness program addresses the physical and emotional effects of cancer, long-term health goals and the impact of cancer on day-to-day life.

"Donations like this one allow us to offer this program to our patients free of charge, as most of these services are not covered by insurance," said Emily Tamberino, Vail Health communications and publications manager.

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Record-breaking

Last year was a record year for Tough Enough to Wear Pink at the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo, generating more than $15,720.

The money generated through Tough Enough to Wear Pink comes from a number of sources. By purchasing a ticket to Friday's rodeo, spectators are contributing to the cause. The Eagle County Fair & Rodeo will donate 50 cents for each July 27 rodeo ticket sold. Spectators can also maximize their ticket donation online or at the ticket office. When ordering tickets online, type the word "PINK" in the discount field to add a $1 donation. At the ticket office, ask to "Go Pink" to add a $1 per ticket donation.

During the event, Tough Enough to Wear Pink merchandize will sold and the rodeo royalty will be passing collection boots around the arena.

Even local 4-H Club kids contribute to the cause. Cody Ponce will be donating the proceeds from a 4-H Club project pig and Hawk Palmiter will be donating his 4-H Club lamb. The animal auctions will take place between events at the rodeo arena.

Finally, rodeo spectators are urged to join competitors and don pink clothing on Friday. Volunteers from the Shaw Cancer Center will be on hand to distribute information and free merchandise.

How Tough Enough to Wear Pink was born

Back in 2004, the Tough Enough to Wear Pink 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 Cowboys Association.

Fourteen 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 eight years now, the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo has been one of those supporters.