Event center challenges community to be tough enough to wear pink

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Are you tough enough to wear pink?

Here in southwest Missouri there is a rough-and-tumble group of men, women and children who are "tough enough to wear pink," and they are making a difference for women suffering the effects of breast cancer.

For the second year, Gizmo's Event Center in Wheaton will host several events to raise funds for local women battling breast cancer and the related treatments. The first on the event is a Power of Pink Walk/Run, scheduled to take place on May 7 at the event center in Wheaton.

Event organizer and co-owner of Gizmo's Event Center, Janice McCracken, is encouraging area residents to take part in the fundraising campaign.

"We hope to have everyone registered by April 19," McCracken said. "We will be able to get shirts ordered in time for the walk, but we will continue accepting registrations up through the morning of the walk."

McCracken has mapped out a five-mile route, which will begin at the event center and through downtown Wheatonand back to the center. Water will be available at designated spots along the route.

"Last year, we put this first event together in 30 days," McCracken laughed. "We're starting earlier this year.

"Last year, even starting as late as we did on fundraising, we were able to give two local women $1,000 each," she continued. "This year, I'm hoping to be able to help more women."

Depending on how much is raised, the proceeds from all fundraising events will be divided among the number of women referred to McCracken. Benefits for each woman will be capped at $1,000.

"Anyone in the area having information on a woman who has breast cancer is encouraged to touch base with me," McCracken said. "In turn, I can contact that individual and ask if she is interested in being a part of the event. We will announce and introduce the recipients at the 'Are You Tough Enough?' PRCA rodeo night on Friday, Aug. 19."

Eligible recipients are area residents currently undergoing treatment for the disease.

"We want to make this an annual event," McCracken said. "As local business owners begin to learn more about this wonderful program we hope they will want to be a part of it."

Cost of corporate sponsorships is $100. All corporate sponsor names or logos will be printed on the walk/run T-shirts handed out to each participant.

McCracken also has other merchandising items to sell during the Tough Enough rodeo event. Those include jelly bracelets, T-shirts with the easily-recognized pink ribbon logo and water bottles. All proceeds from sales of those items will also benefit the awareness campaign.

"I'm going to have a booth at each one of our scheduled events," McCracken said. "We are also asking everyone, rodeo entrants, spectators and vendors, to wear pink on Saturday, Aug. 19 to honor these local women."

But this is not just a local effort.

"Every rodeo we go to, we see what other rodeo committees are doing for this cause, and it's amazing," McCracken said. "I saw one where they handed out cards for a free mammogram to eligible women, which were donated by a local hospital. Just think, those free mammograms could have prevented one woman, or several, from suffering breast cancer surgery or treatments.

"This cause is so dear to my heart," McCracken said. "There is such a need for this kind of thing."

Sponsored nationally by Wrangler Western Wear, this year marks the sixth year that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has participated in the awareness campaign, and arenas all across the nation are sponsoring their own local events in recognition of their local residents suffering breast cancer. Wrangler has raised over $20 million in its national campaign efforts.

"Local chapters have the option of donating their funds to the national campaign or keeping them right here at home," McCracken said. "Every dollar we raise locally will go to an area woman undergoing treatment. They will be able to use the funds any way they want, whether it's paying a bill or buying medication. We just want to do our part to help those women."

McCracken is still seeking local sponsorships and names of wome with breast cancer for the Power of Pink campaign.

Registration for the May 7 walk/run is $25 per person and $12 for children under the age of 12 and senior citizens. All entrants will receive a T-shirt. Business teams of six or more persons will receive a 10 percent discount on registration.

For more information, call McCracken at 417-652-3434 or 417-466-5401. Registration forms are available on the Internet at form@gizmoeventcenter.com.