Back in 2004, the concept of Tough Enough to Wear Pink was created by Terry Wheatley, a breast cancer survivor, with help from the former commissioner of the PRCA, Karl Stressman. The idea was to bring the rodeo and western community together to rally against breast cancer.
Since the program launched in 2004, the campaign has raised over $26 million for breast cancer charities, most of which is put right back into the local communities that support this program.
Terry has been a rodeo regular at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Her son Wade Wheatley is a Wrangler NFR qualifier for team roping and her husband Jim was a six-time Wrangler NFR team roping qualifier as well. You could say rodeo talent runs deep in this family! But just as talent runs deep for these men in the sport of rodeo, unfortunately, breast cancer runs deep in Terry’s family. Her grandmother passed away from breast cancer, her mother had a double mastectomy before the age of 40, and her daughter had two surgical biopsies before the age of 20.
Terry wanted to take action, realizing that early diagnosis and treatment was key to her own success in beating cancer. Exactly three weeks before the Wrangler NFR in 2004, she had an idea to spark awareness for breast cancer. She wanted all the attendees and contestants to wear pink to show awareness for breast cancer. Then came some of the concerns. How would they ever get cowboys to agree to wear pink in the rough and tough sport of rodeo? Did anyone even make pink western shirts for men? Low and behold, Wrangler planned to launch a pink western shirt line in 2005. With a few phone calls from Karl Stressman, the former Commissioner of the PRCA, and expedited shipping, Karl managed to get 200 shirts in three weeks to the Wrangler NFR for the contestants to wear.
Part of the question in 2004 was, though they had the pink shirts, would the cowboys wear them? Were they tough enough to support the cause? The Wheatley family thought it might just be them that showed up sporting pink to the Thomas and Mack Center the night they asked everyone to participate. To their amazement, the Thomas and Mack Center that particular night was a sea of pink. Contestants, friends, families, and spectators turned the arena pink. It was pretty incredible!
In 2015, when the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo moved to Kissimmee, we wanted to get involved and be a part of supporting this great cause. Every year, we host a Tough Enough to Wear Pink performance. Since 2015, we have given a portion of our ticket proceeds back to supporting local organizations who fund cancer research or help cancer patients. In addition, during our Tough Enough to Wear Pink performance, we honor 3-5 cancer survivors on the dirt by sharing their stories and presenting them with Montana Silversmiths one-of-a-kind buckles.
If you haven’t been to this performance, we encourage fans to attend! Show up Saturday, March 23rd, sport your best pink, and help us support the cause. Are you Tough Enough to Wear Pink?
Courtesy of RNCFR.com