Power of Pink celebrating 10 years

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

McCracken: ‘I listen to their stories, and it breaks my heart’

The color pink has, since the early 1980s, represented the women and men who fight to beat breast cancer.

More specifically, pink ribbons offer support to victims of breast cancer and awareness to the disease. Locally, one family has spent the last decade bringing breast cancer into the spotlight and reaching out to those facing diagnoses with support, both monetarily and emotionally.

In 2010, the Power of Pink mission was born in the midst of a rodeo with the purpose of helping local women battling breast cancer.

In the past 10 years, Power of Pink has raised $188,041.49 for 32 women.

For the 10th anniversary, Janice McCracken, founder of Power of Pink wants people to bring 10 friends to the May 2020 walk.

“My husband is a professional rodeo clown,” McCracken said. “Years ago, Wrangler started a program Tough Enough to Wear Pink, and they started raising money for breast cancer awareness.”

The McCracken family would go to rodeos every week, and Janice was constantly seeing the Tough Enough to Wear Pink program, which resonated with her even more when she and her husband started building the Gizmo Event Center in Wheaton.

“I told my husband that I wanted to help someone local that was battling breast cancer,” she said. “We had our first recipients in 2009, but we didn’t start the walk until 2010.”

The McCracken family had their first rodeo in 2009, and as a family of goal setters, they decided to help two local women and donate $1,000 to each of them.

“We fell a little short on the $1,000, but as a family, we put in more money to make sure we reached our goal,” she said. “We realized it was a little harder than we had initially thought. In 2010, we started the walk, which helped to bring in more people. The walk was something that the community could be a big part of.”

McCracken said she wanted to do the Power of Pink walk on Mother’s Day weekend.

“What better thing to do with your mom than to spend a morning walking for a cause while spending quality time?” she said.

McCracken said she has not had breast cancer and no one in her family has either.

“I just saw a need, and I felt like breast cancer could happen to anyone,” she said. “Anybody can get that devastating phone call, and I couldn’t think of a better way to help.”

McCracken said she never really understood what people diagnosed with breast cancer go through until she became involved with them every day.

“I call and speak with each woman when they are nominated,” she said. “I listen to their stories, and it breaks my heart. My husband always says he hates the night that I make those calls, because I am so emotional.”

One of the women nominated last year had a chemo that was called the Red Devil, McCracken said this woman lost her fingernails and toenails, and the doctors eventually told her they had to stop the heavy sessions or she would have ended up in a wheelchair.

“The cancer is killing these women, and I can’t imagine how much it hurts,” she said. “But, on top of the cancer, the treatments they have to endure to beat the cancer are just as painful. Nobody thinks about the chemicals that are in the treatments, and each time I speak with one of these women, it opens my eyes.

“They are so strong to take what they have to do every day.”

The point of the Power of Pink is to take care of a small piece of these women’s lives, McCracken said, whether it is a car payment or whatever they need that will bring them some peace.

“We want them to just think about getting better,” she said. “When we first started, we only focused on Barry County, and now, we have expanded to the four-states area.”

McCracken said so far, Power of Pink has been blessed in the fact that they have not had to turn down anybody.

“We have had ladies who have turned us down,” she said. “I have had women who said they have great insurance and that we should help someone else who needs it more, and I think that speaks volumes for those ladies.”

Power of Pink is a non-profit organization and is currently working with an attorney to look into some changes that the organization can make.

“We would like to be able to help people year-round,” she said. “For example, if a woman finds out she has breast cancer after our walk in May, we want to have some kind of reserves that we can hand out to help.”

Plunder Designs, out of Utah, is teaming up with the Power of Pink again this year for the 10th anniversary.

“We are all very excited about that,” she said. “Twenty percent of all the sales from Plunder goes to the Power of Pink. It is a huge factor and a blessing that they picked us to team up with. My husband said it was God who put us together.”

McCracken said she is trying to get people to bring 10 friends for the 10th anniversary.

“We are working on trying to develop some new ideas during the event to make it more of a celebration,” she said. “I set a goal last year to have 500 walkers in Wheaton on the day of the walk for our 10th anniversary.”

Another goal for the 10th anniversary is to have each of the women that have been helped throughout the years there and recognized.

“The Friday before the walk is when we do the banquet,” she said. “Last year, we almost sold out tickets for the banquet, so it is growing, and the auction is growing, as well.”

The Power of Pink 10th anniversary walk is scheduled for May 9, 2020.

“Anyone who wants to be involved, I would love for them to get ahold of me,” she said. “I am amazed and thankful that God has allowed us to grow so much in the last 10 years, and I am excited to see what happens over the next 10 years.

“I have thought before, what would I do if no one was nominated one year, and my daughter tells me that would actually be amazing. We could actually say we have raised the money and it is here if someone needs it, but thank the Lord that no one needs it right now.”

For more information on the Power of Pink, the women helped or how to get involved, people may visit www.powerofpinkmo.com, the Facebook page Power of Pink.

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