Power of Pink brings resources to women’s battles

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
This year’s Power of Pink recipients, all local women dealing with breast cancer, from left, were: Rene Lawrence, Amy Pointer, Janice McCracken (founder) and Sabrina Reed. Absent from photo is recipient Lori Webster, who was too ill to attend. In background is Gizmo McCracken, local rodeo clown and spouse of Janice, posed for a photo at the Power of Pink banquet May 11 in Fairview. Adams, husband Abe and two of their six children traveled from Utah to present a check for over $22,000 raised by Plunder Jewelry for the Power of Pink ladies this year, and make the second year the business has donated to the event. Last year, $8,700 was raised. Contributed photo

4 local women receive $11,793 checks

Fighting breast cancer is a battle.

Between feelings of fear, taking time off work for doctor visits, financial pressure, nausea from chemo and radiation treatments, and one’s appearance changing, a woman facing down breast cancer has to fight to get well.

Power of Pink participants hold a check for $22,035.48 that included a percentage of jewelry sales of Plunder Jewelry. Between those sales, T-shirts, a banquet and auction and donations from businesses and the community, a total of $47,174.02 was raised and split four ways for four local women dealing with breast cancer to use in whatever way they needed. Janice McCracken, second from left, started the Power of Pink Foundation to help bring resources to local women fighting breast cancer eight years ago, and the event has grown exponentially since then. Her husband and well-known rodeo clown Gizmo McCracken is pictured on the bandstand behind the ladies. Contributed photo

In the last decade, the Power of Pink Foundation has helped 25 women fight that battle, by bringing the weapons of power resources and hope to the battleground.

In its inaugural year eight years ago, the foundation, which hosts an annual banquet, walk/run and auction, and donates the proceeds to women fighting breast cancer, raised $1,000. Since then, it has raised a whopping $134,890.79, which is given directly to women with the disease.

Fast forward to its most recent events held May 11 and 12, during which the organization raised $47,174.02 — putting checks in the amount of $11,793.50 into each of the hands of four ladies. That figure included $22,035.48 in jewelry sales of Plunder Designs, along with the sale of T-shirts, area donations, banquet, auction, and sales of pink merchandise at rodeos, pies from a friend, said Janice McCracken, founder of the Power of Pink, chairwoman and wife of famed rodeo clown Gizmo McCracken,.

The community came out in droves on May 11 to participate in the Power of Pink’s Run/Walk event in Wheaton to raise money to help four local women battling breast cancer. Contributed photo

“We started the foundation because of what I saw at the rodeos from the Tough Enough to Wear Pink through Wrangler [Jeans],” Janice McCracken said. “At each rodeo, they would donate a portion of ticket sales, and give the proceeds to the program or somewhere in their community [like a hospital]. So we’d do Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. Gizmo would wear a pink hat. That night is huge in the rodeo.”

McCracken is tickled pink with the Run/Walk event’s growth, which started in 2011.

“When we started, my goal was to get $1,000,” she said. “We were a little shy of that, so we put in to make it that $1,000. Last year, we were able to give each woman $6,297.26 and this year, $11,793.50. We almost doubled what we did last year. It’s been a major blessing. I’m just blown away and blessed by the donations and support we get. In the rodeo world, I’m the only one that’s given back to local women, and I wanted to bring that back home.”

About 350 Barry Countians and families of all ages hit the pavement on May 12 for the Power of Pink Run/Walk event, which covered a little over four miles through Wheaton. In its eighth year, the Power of Pink Foundation exists to raise awareness and funds to cover medical bills and practical expenses for local women fighting breast cancer. This year, the organization raised a whopping $47,174.02, with $22,035.48 of that figure consisting of a percentage of sales from Plunder Jewelry. As a result, each of the four recipients received a check for $11,793.50. Contributed photo

This year, the money raised for each recipient to do with as she wishes included: Lori Webster, Rene Lawrence, Amy Pointer and Sabrina Reed.

“I started this to take stress off them,” McCracken said. “I don’t care if they want to [use it to] take their family and go to Disney World; it’s theirs to do whatever they want with and just enjoy their time with their family.”

Probably the biggest blessing for her, McCracken says, is when she delivers the checks, some of which are posted on the foundation’s Facebook page.

Power of Pink participants take a group photo to commemorate the foundation’s annual run/walk event, which was held on May 11. After an auction and banquet the evening before, T-shirt and jewelry sales, and donations, four women were presented with individual checks of $11,793.50. Janice McCracken founded the organization eight years ago to help local women fighting breast cancer. Contributed photo

“It’s amazing,” she said.

McCracken said she is often asked if she had breast cancer or a family member who did, but she hasn’t.

“I haven’t, but it could happen to any one of us,” she said. “And I think it’s so sad when I call these ladies and we’re trying to decide how many we’re going to help and there are times I can only talk to one a day because it breaks my heart what they’re going through. I take their burden on.”

Rodeo clown Gizmo McCracken, left, and wife, Janice, founded the Power of Pink Foundation and Run/Walk events to help local women battling breast cancer with practical needs, along with emotional and spiritual support. Contributed photo

McCracken is hoping to continue growing the event, including getting more walkers and businesses on board.

“I’m trying to get word out to these groups that go to these different runs/walks,” she said. “My goal is to reach 500 walkers, then when I get there, I’m going to set a new goal.”

McCracken works through year to collect donations for the foundation, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

“I think it’s awesome we can offer that [status] to anyone that donates,” she said. “I would like to get a company to sponsor the whole night. Jim Fohn has never turned me down to donate the meat [for the banquet], Wheaton Family Market donated all the sides this year, and the sandwiches we give away at the walk — they’re sponsored by someone that donates money, so that every dollar goes to the women. Walmart give me gift cards, which is how I buy all the paper products I need so it doesn’t take anything out of the women’s money.

“It doesn’t matter if you can only give $5, every bit counts and we welcome any businesses that want to get involved. If you know anyone suffering with breast cancer, please contact us. Don’t ever think it doesn’t matter, because every bit does when you’re fighting a battle like this.”

Recipients are nominated.

“The most we’ve had is four women,” McCracken said. “When we hand them that check, I want it to be an amount that makes a difference. I want to be a good steward of the money so I can bless them in a bigger way.”

Money goes to women like Pointer, who was diagnosed with an early-stage breast cancer in September.

“I have insurance but I have deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses and the money is going to go a long ways in covering that,” she said.

Besides paying medical bills, she and her family haven’t decided what they will do with the money yet.

“Mainly, we’ll use it to get our medical bills paid off, and and maybe an extra bill or two,” Pointer said. “My kids have really been wanting to go to Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield.

“I think what Janice and their family are doing is a tremendous thing. They are owed a round of applause and a huge ‘Thank you’ from many people, and I think the event will continue to grow. I’m very thankful for what they have done. They are a great group of people.”

For more information about sponsorship or nominating a woman with breast cancer, McCracken can be reached at 417-466-5401.

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