Whether it’s for the benefit of abandoned horses, a well-known rider, or others in need, the western industry always finds a way to rally around a great cause. For Terry Wheatley, that cause was breast cancer. Since her son, Wade, and husband, Jim, were both successful team roping competitors, and having survived breast cancer herself, Wheatley was inspired to get the western community involved in the fight. Thus, Wheatley founded Tough Enough to Wear Pink (TETWP), a fundraising and awareness campaign catered specifically to rodeos and western events.
Established in 2004, TETWP Pink started with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. That night Wheatley, with the help of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association commissioner Karl Stressman and her own son, Wade, who was competing in the finals, convinced competitor after competitor to sport pink Wrangler shirts in the arena. Spectators followed suit, and Tough Enough to Wear Pink was on its way.
Since that first night, the campaign has grown substantially. The organization added several sponsors and partners, though Wrangler remains its title supporter. Its presence is visible at hundreds of competitive events each year. In fact, TETWP has raised more than $25 million dollars for various breast cancer charities, a milestone they reached at the Wrangler National Rodeo Finals’ 12th Annual “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night”. Additionally, the success of TETWP’s rodeo and western events has led to others launching campaigns outside of the western industry, including in the extreme sports arena.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Twisted X on the Wrangler TETWP product line,” says Terry Wheatley. “October is generally recognized as breast cancer awareness month. However, the western industry is so strongly committed that April has been designated as a time for focus as well. The daily survivor stories are a powerful way to put a face to breast cancer.”
It’s important for Wheatley and Stressman that much of the donated money stays in the communities where it was raised. Many local communities select a local breast cancer charity — often the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation — to receive the proceeds from their events. These charities support victims of the disease, raise awareness, and promote early detection practices.
Of course, the search for a cure is also a major priority, so TETWP also gives a portion of their proceeds at the national level to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Considered by the American Institute of Philanthropy as an “A+” charity, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is able to pass on over 90 cents of every dollar it receives. Scientists around the world have received funds for their innovative research to combat and cure breast cancer.
TETWP’s presence at events isn’t limited to a donation can with a note asking for loose change. Branded t-shirts, hoodies, tank tops, vests, hats, and more are available for competitors and spectators alike. Event organizers can even purchase items wholesale from the campaign website to make their own event a Tough Enough to Wear Pink fundraiser.
After thirteen years, Wheatley still acts as the director for Tough Enough to Wear Pink, but the everyday operations of the campaign have been passed on to Wheatley’s daughter, Terry, and her son Wade’s wife, Lacey. Operating from their office in Hughson, California, they help event organizers put together TETWP fundraisers. Recent high earners include events at New Mexico State University, Cattlemen’s Days in Gunnison, Colorado, and the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo in Rapid City, South Dakota.
To support the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign, you can visit toughenoughtowearpink.com to learn more, find out about donations, or purchase gear and other TETWP branded products. You can also find everything you need to turn your next event into an official TETWP fundraiser.
Interested in Hosting Your Own TETWP Event?
It’s time to get your fundraising plan in action – Here are some helpful steps to get you started in the right direction!
- Pick a date & choose your charity
- Gather committee members
- Access required enrollment forms at toughenoughtowearpink.com/host-your-event/
- Order official merchandise, committee t-shirts and get together with your charity of choice
- Share the news! Create posters, e-blasts, and get your local businesses to help!
For further information regarding 2017 enrollment applications, order forms, and collecting and submitting donations, please visit toughenoughtowearpink.com today!