Making a splash in Vegas
Times Staff Report
This time, what happened in Vegas definitely is not staying in Vegas.
The Gunnison Valley was well represented recently at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) in Las Vegas, including a contingent on hand to see Cattlemen’s Days once again crowned as the No. 1 Tough Enough to Wear Pink fundraising rodeo in the country.
The Gunnison community has raised close to $2 million over the years to support the fight against breast cancer in their hometown.
Among their goals is to make Gunnison Valley Health the top rural hospital for breast cancer care in the U.S. by providing funds for services, medical equipment and support. Money raised by the campaign also financed the purchase of a new patient transportation vehicle.
The 2016 Ram 1500 truck, custom-wrapped in the Cattlemen’s Days TETWP logo, is designated to safely transport Gunnison breast cancer patients requiring advanced treatment to medical centers outside the area.
The Gunnison TETWP Truck, nicknamed “Tuffy,” spent three nights at the WNFR Fan Zone, where more than 20,000 fans and attendees of the WNFR performances each night were exposed to Cattlemen’s Days and Gunnison’s TETWP efforts.
The Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo committee sent a full delegation of representatives to this year’s PRCA convention, held before the WNFR. It included President Margo Patton-Blair, Vice President Kevin Coblentz, Second VP Jackson Irby and committee members Cody Irby, Bill Knowles, Karla Rundell, Misty Sponable and Duane Sponable.
The local representatives’ networking with other rodeo committees and PRCA members and officers is essential to keep Cattlemen’s Days on the national radar of rodeo producers and rodeo athletes, moving Cattlemen’s Days closer to its goal of becoming the top medium sized rodeo in the country.
Also making Las Vegas the Gunnison TETWP Executive Director Heidi Sherratt and TETWP advisory board members Cjay Clark and Michael Dawson. The Gunnison TETWP group focused on strengthening its connection with the national TETWP organization, and its national sponsors Wrangler, Montana Silversmiths and Pendleton Whisky.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing Kacey Musgraves and George Strait perform with Gunnison’s own Dean Dillon in his Strait Out of Vegas Tour Saturday night. Dillon was even shown on the national telecast of Round 5 of the WNFR with Tuffy, bringing national exposure to Cattlemen’s Days and the TETWP program.
The local delegation is excited to bring the high energy and ideas home to make the 2017 Cattlemen’s Days — scheduled for July 8-15 — bigger and better than ever.
Nationally, the TETWP effort reached the $25 million fundraising mark at this year’s WNFR.
“Small donations add up to make a tremendous positive impact for families facing breast cancer and the entire community,” commented Terry Wheatley, the founder of the TETWP effort.