Not quite a decade ago, Medcenter One merged with Sanford Health in Bismarck and Mandan, ND. Through that merger, the healthcare system came out stronger than ever, together. Also through that merge was the beginning of the Sanford Healthcare Foundation. The Sanford Health Foundation, headquartered in the heart of the American Midwest, is made up of six regions. The Bismarck location has been tasked with all fundraising efforts across western North Dakota for all things related to philanthropy. As their website states, their fundraising efforts help educate our next generation, power community wellness programs and everything in between.
Cowgirls for a Cure is one of the foundation’s recent adventures into a newer type of fundraising. Nearly three years ago, the Sanford Health Foundation was approached by Sanford employee Bill Beard and his wife, Treva. The Beards have a shared passion for rodeo sports and have turned their 40-acre property into a local rodeo community. With a family history of breast cancer, comprised of both survival stories and stories of loss, the Beards wanted to give back on a personal level. They asked the Foundation “How can we keep community fundraising dollars within the rodeo world in Bismarck?” Cowgirls for a Cure was born.
Cowgirls for a Cure has become an annual barrel racing competition benefiting the Edith Sanford Breast Initiative. Open to both 4D and peewees, the riders involved have a goal to raise funds for their entry fee and beyond. All funds raised support local patient care, 3D mammograms, staff education and certifications, and research to end breast cancer.
In 2019, the Beards approached the foundation asking if they would like to do the event again. Sanford Health Foundation Development Officer Adenike Ohonme mentioned, “For us, it was easy to say ‘yes.’ They (Beards) came back saying ‘We want to do it again but bigger and better. We want 200 riders to participate and we want to hit that $40,000 fundraising level again.’”
Ohonme said that in the second year, they not only hit the $40,000 goal, but raised an additional $23,000 past that. She said, perhaps most importantly though, not only did the second year bring more awareness to breast cancer to 40 new participants, from as far as Arizona, but that, “We had two breast cancer survivors that attended and participated in the event.” She continued to say how impactful it has been to be a part of such a wonderful fundraising incentive in the rodeo community.
The, now annual, sponsored Cowgirls for a Cure Event takes place the last week of September due to rodeo season. While October is breast cancer awareness month, the Sanford Health Foundation has found that the weekend prior to the month has proved to be better for overall activity and engagement.
The Sanford Health Foundation and the Beards approached Dakota Community Bank & Trust (DCB&T) for a sponsorship during the 2019 event. “We knew we wanted to have a presenting sponsor to really trail blaze in this space (rodeo). We knew there was already a passion for that at Dakota Community Bank & Trust. Dale (Pahlke) is passionate about community events and about rodeos. We knew with their sponsorship, that all proceeds raised could go back locally to Edith Sanford,” revealed Ohonme.
As the 2019 platinum sponsor, DCB&T President Dale Pahlke expressed, “I think most everyone knows someone who has been stricken with breast cancer. Unfortunately, this disease has affected many of our mothers, sisters, daughters, etc. We feel the more we can do for those who have personally experienced breast cancer as well as those who have the potential to be impacted, the better.”
While Odonme states that 2019 was the first year of the partnership, it was well received by the community as well as the Beard family. “Bill and Treva were also very excited to see the bank (DCB&T) rally around them, and give them support to what they are doing in the local community. And to have Dale actually come to the event proved that it’s not just words, its actions to him. He, and Dakota Community Bank & Trust, are committed to making this community better.”
While it has quickly become a premier barrel racing event complete with a live and silent auction, the Beards’ goal is to ensure the event will raise awareness for the importance of routine mammograms. Odohme ensures that all should attend in the future, “It’s welcoming, Bismarck as itself and the rodeo. We would love to continue to see the community rally behind this event.” For more information about Cowgirls for a Cure and how to get involved, check out their website: https://www.sanfordhealthfoundation.org/cowgirls-for-a-cure/.
Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director