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Tough Enough to Wear Pink

Phillipsburg rodeo fans are generous.

In the past eleven years, they have given more than $71,000 to the rodeo’s annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign.

The “pink fund”, made up of voluntary donations from the public and local businesses, goes to cancer research through the American Cancer Society, and to local cancer patients in the area.

Charlene Ross is one of those cancer survivors who has benefitted from monies received.

The Long Island, Kan. woman was diagnosed with AML: acute myopic leukemia, in April of 2016. After three chemotherapy treatments, she was in remission and ready for a stem cell transplant, which happened in July of 2016.

The transplant was done in Omaha at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Ross, who is retired, spent 108 days in Omaha. Medicare and secondary insurance paid most of their bills, but her husband, Keith, a farmer, got an apartment while he was in Omaha with her. They paid the costs of meals, fuel to and from Omaha, and housing, out of their own pocket.

The funds were given to them by the Hope in the Heartland fund, through the Western Heritage Foundation, which raises its funds in part through Kansas Biggest Rodeo. They were a godsend, Ross said. “I was so blessed to get the money from the rodeo. We spent a long time in Omaha,” she said.

She and her family, including daughters Monica¬† Cole, Staci Montgomery, and Melissa McClain, love coming to Kansas Biggest Rodeo, and wear pink on the first night of rodeo, in recognition of Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. “My husband doesn’t wear pink, but he wears pink at the rodeo,” Ross said. “We’re proud as we can be, to support the rodeo. It’s a great celebration in our family.” The Rosses also have a son, Doug, who lives in Texas.

Another recipient of “pink” rodeo funds in the Phillipsburg area is Charlie Stephens.

The three and a half-year-old daughter of Jason and Michelle Stephens was diagnosed in September 2015 with pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After one round of chemo, Charlie was in remission. Then the unthinkable happened: the cancer returned.

As of March, 2017, Charlie is waiting for a bone marrow transplant match. She has about two months of procedures to go through till the transplant, and she and her mother will spend the time in Omaha.

The Almena, Kan. family is split: Charlie and Michelle in Omaha, Jason and eight-year-old son Mason at home. The monies the family received have been welcomed. “Since I am in Omaha twenty-four/seven with Charlie, I have not been able to work,” Michelle said. “Now we are a one income family, so it helps with everyday bills.” The doctors are predicting that Charlie will be in Omaha for the next six months or more.

For every fan wearing pink to the rodeo on August 3, one dollar is donated by the rodeo committee.

Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy, McClain Seed Sales, Rodgers and Associates Insurance Co., Kansas Crop Care/Nebraskaland Aviation and Farmers State Bank also contribute to the fundraiser.

Farmers State Bank