Giving Cancer the ‘Boot’ – barrel racers join the fight against breast cancer
Menoken–Giving cancer the ‘boot’ is the motto of Cowgirls for a Cure. Lifting North Dakota breast cancer patients, up with their horses, is what close to four-hundred people did– including barrel racers, their supporters, and Sanford employees this past Saturday, September 10.
Joining the fight against breast cancer, Bill and Treva Beard of Beard Arena, Menoken, and Sanford Health united forces to help build a fundraiser to accelerate breakthroughs and improve the lives of breast cancer patients across the region through raising funds and awareness.
2022 hosted the fifth annual, Cowgirls for a Cure, 4-d barrel race at the Beard Arena. Contestants and their horses were decked out in shades of pink from every direction and raced with flying colors to raise the record number of over $100,000 for Sanford Health.
“We started this with the thought of getting the rural community involved in a great cause. Our wheelhouse is rodeo and hosting barrel racing and team roping jackpots, so we worked to bring that world and healthcare together. Cowgirls for a Cure is what transpired, and it has raised over four-hundred-thousand dollars since it began,” explained Bill Beard.
Beard had worked at Sanford for over 25 years and saw so many patients he knew personally at the fundraiser.
“This is totally a family event. It is getting bigger and better each year. It is so incredible to have a barrel race and fundraiser that can raise this much money and keep it local. Having the Sanford Health staff be a part of it is wonderful” said Amanda Gerhardt, Mandan, contestant and mother of rider, Daysha Gerhardt.
“Every year, Daysha has ridden for a family friend, relative, or co-worker of mine. This is her favorite event. Getting dressed up in pink and being in the atmosphere is something she loves,” added Gerhardt.
Daysha barrel races on her horse, Nickel, which was given to her by her grandfather, Wayne Eckroth. The crew rode for Jamie Fleck, Mandan, owner of Dakota Traveling Nurse. Fleck passed away from her battle with breast cancer this past March. Nickle and Daysha had $1,000 donated to them from Cody Fleck, Mandan.
“A six-year-old doesn’t quite know the realm of how much money this event raises and how many people’s lives it is truly touching. Dale Pahlke, Bismarck, of Dakota Community Bank is not only a huge supporter from the bank side, but Dale and family donate to multiple individual riders. Their support is phenomenal,” said Gerhardt.
“This is a great way to get the community and parents with kids who have a passion for horses involved,” said professional barrel racer, Josey Clark, Carrington. “It’s a really fun barrel race with a great cause that brings not just local people, but even out of state racers in, to support the race and the cause,” added Clark. Clark has attended and raced multiple horses at Cowgirls for a Cure the past five years of its’ presence.
Back-to-back Cowgirls for a Cure 1-d champion, Allie Ness from Thompson, said, “I’ve gone to this race for three years, every barrel racer should have it on their list to attend. As a Sanford employee working as a CNA for Sanford Mayville, it is an absolute honor to be able to participate and know that we are part of it. It is mind-blowing how much money is raised.”
Ness rode her eleven-year-old gelding, Mr. Right Now Guy, aka Shooter, to the finish line with a time of 16.1 seconds. “My horse was excited and took his regular pop-up jump and I sent him to first barrel. Knowing we went by it a stride or two, I ran him as hard as he could to second to make up time. He had a great barrel, so we went hard to third. He snapped around it and finished strong,” explaining the run, Ness.
Ness had a gut feeling about Shooter. She purchased him from a friend as a four-year old. Shooter is by VHR Frenchies Socks.
The duo trained and finished seasoning and is now running strong all over the region while attending college at UND obtaining a degree in nursing.
Beard added, “The girls that race and work to bring in this money are really, where it’s at. No one sponsors or supports the rodeo industry more across ND than our presenting sponsor, Dale Pahlke. He works the whole day of the event and support this cause, the racers, and our community day in and day out.
“The future is simple, raise as much money as possible to help those fighting breast cancer. So many families are affected by this or know someone who is, so this is our way to help,” Beard said.
For more information, visit: Cowgirls for a Cure or Sanford Health Foundation on Facebook.
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