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Real men wear pink

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EAGLE ” When it comes to toughness and the toughest color, pink is the new black.

The cowboys and the crowd at Friday’s Eagle County Fair and Rodeo were in the pink. Friday was “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night at the rodeo, an event designed to raise awareness and money for the fight against breast cancer and the Vail Valley Medical Center’s Shaw Regional Cancer Center.

All the fair workers, the fair and rodeo committee and hundreds of people in the stands wore pink.

A bunch of the cowboys work pink, even though it’s not the first color that pops into a cowboy’s head when he’s sizing up his wardrobe for that day’s festivities. These are NOT the kinds of guys who reach for something silky and think, “Sometimes a cowboys just likes to feel pretty.” Not at all.

They’re cowboys, the stuff of which legends are made, told and retold. They rope, they ride, and if they’re hurt, they walk it off.

They’re tough enough to jump from the back of a perfectly good horse that loves them and onto the horns of a steer that does not.

They’ve been thrown, stomped, rocked, rolled, peeled and pummeled. Sometimes you ride the bull and sometimes the bull rides you.

They’ll feel in the pink. They’ll admire the pink sunset and the alpineglow that goes with it.

Sometimes some will ll even listen to pop singer Pink.

They’ll break ribs, wrists and the hearts of their girlfriends and mamas, then haul themselves out of the dirt and ride the rankest critter they can rope.

They wear hats, boots, spurs, championship belt buckles the size of turkey platters and sometimes helmets.

But are they tough enough to wear pink?

Andy Martinez, this year’s top-ranked bareback rider, was wearing pink.

The man he’s battling for that top spot, reigning world champion Will Lowe, would have been wearing pink, but his pink shirt was shredded during a rodeo earlier this week. He’ll likely have another one by the time he rides again.

“It gets a little rough sometimes,” said Lowe, talking about riding broncs for a living, not about wearing pink.

PRCA rodeos all over the country are part of the program. Martinez said he’s worn his pink shirt four or five times this season.

“Wearing pink isn’t a big deal,” said Martinez. “It’s for a great cause and you’re not the only one doing it.”

“It attracts a lot of attention, and that’s good,” said fellow bareback bronc rider Cimarron Gerke.

“And of course women like it,” said Martinez, cutting straight to the heart of the issue in true cowboy fashion. “We’re doing it for them.”

To raise money for the cause, two local families donated an angus steer and a hog that were auctioned during Friday’s rodeo performance. The hog and steer will both be pink, but more in a medium-rare, mesquite grill kind of way.

Bringing the fight

to the front

Wrangler has been making western wear clothing since 1947, but nothing quite like this. The company partnered with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and they’ve run the Tough Enough to Wear Pink program at rodeos all over the country. They rolled it out last October, to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The shirts carry a redesigned Wrangler rope emblem in the shape of the breast cancer ribbon.

“Breast cancer touches everyone,” Wrangler’s Phil McAdams said on a company Web site.

“Tough Enough to Wear Pink is our way of recognizing the courageous women and men who face the disease and the family and friends who face it with them.”

People like Greg Rapetti, Greg Rapetti, president and CEO of the Vail Valley Medical Center. He was wearing one of Wrangler’s official pink shirts Friday night, with the Wrangler name and a pink ribbon embroidered onto the pocket.

“Wrangler has been all over the country with PRCA rodeos,” Rapetti said.

“It’s been a great partnership. It’s great that the sport of rodeo has made this their cause.”

All the money raised during the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo stays local, going to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center and the fight against breast cancer on the home front.

The fight is personal for Rapetti. Fifteen years ago his mother died of breast cancer.

“They’re raising money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, and that’s as good of a reason to wear pink as there has ever been,” Rapetti said. “One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. This is a fight we must win.”

Vail, Colorado


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