Aug 10, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff WriterUnder a pink sunset with plenty of shirts to match in the audience, supporters contributed more than $20,000 to the Tough Enough to Help Cancer Fund during the auction July 31 at the Wind River PRCA Ram Rodeo.
"It is fantastic," said Teresa Nirider, who organizes the Tough Enough to Wear Pink night event for breast cancer awareness at the Fremont County and Rodeo event.
"The community support, the people that came out and wore pink and supported our breast cancer survivors and our breast cancer people that have passed on, we are truly grateful for their attendance and their support," Nirider said.
The symbolic pink chaps that have become the centerpiece of the annual auction initially generated $4,600 from the family of former Sundowner Station owner Judy Baty, who died of cancer in January 2011.
The family donated the chaps back to the auction and Lander's Bruce Knell, who had the second-highest bid amount, landed the pair for $4,500.
The accompanying pair of chinks generated $3,250 from WyoFab business owners Randy and Misti Ingalls of Riverton.
The auction also included a check presentation from the Rendezvous Elementary School students who raised money for the cancer fund by selling T-shirts.
They had some last-minute changes to their anticipated goal of $3,000.
"About an hour before the rodeo we counted the money and when we added it all up, we thought, 'We're at $4,000,'" said Kay Fabricus, whose son, Dillon, along with his friends Hayden Wempen and James Hampton created the T-shirt fundraiser.
"We got that check out we had made and crossed out the $3,000 and got it accurate," Kay Fabricus said. The kids were shocked, she said.
Dillon wanted to do something to help Hayden, whose mother, Michelle Duty-Wempen, died of breast cancer five years ago. The boys started selling the shirts in May and generated about $2,000 as of mid-July.
The last week or so before the rodeo made the difference in reaching their goal.
"I'm going to attribute that to two things," said Nancy Wempen, Michelle Duty-Wempen's mother. "They sold quite a few shirts down here at the fairgrounds to a lot of fair kids, which was awesome."
Another one was a recent Ranger newspaper story.
"We had people who read the article in the paper," Nancy Wempen said.
"(Dale and Dee Shaklee) called and asked me to bring them a T-shirt for their grandson. All they wanted the boys to do was sign it," Nancy Wempen said.
In return, the Shaklees donated $1,000 to the boys, she said.
"They read this article. They were just so proud of the boys they donated $1,000. Hayden and the boys were tickled because they raised as much money as a pair of those chaps. They thought that was pretty awesome," Nancy Wempen said.
Nirider said the event generated other donations, including one from Australian rodeo athlete Roy Dunn, who won the night's bull riding event with an 84.
"After the rodeo he donated $200, and he doesn't even live in this community," Nirider said.
"We just can't stress our appreciation to this community enough," she said. "We hope they realize we value every dollar that's donated to this fund. Whether it's 50 cents or several hundreds or thousands, it all goes to the same goal of helping our friends and neighbors battle cancer."
Anyone can donate to the fund by contacting the Help for Health office in Riverton at 856-1206.
For those looking for the "Kid$ Being Tuff" T-shirts, bad news.
"We have completely sold out," Nancy Wempen said, adding the boys are taking a break from the fundraising.
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