‘Pink’ out-toughs pandemic

Tough Enough to Wear Pink T-shirt sales at the annual Days of ’76 rodeo booth topped $7,400, the highest in the 15-year history of the fundraising effort. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — While it was no shock that Deadwood’s Days of ’76 Rodeo remained top-notch in attendance numbers, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that when all was said and done, Tough Enough to Wear Pink (TETWP) T-shirt sales from the week-long rodeo tent were through the grandstands roof.

“We had our best rodeo ever,” said Foundation for Health Executive Director Laurie Wince. “Highest numbers ever, in terms of the dollar amount we raised -- $7,478. We made the most at the rodeo we’ve ever made. In 15 years. That’s a huge number for us.”

The increase will help out in other areas of the TETWP campaign that saw a decrease, due to COVID-19-related measures that were enacted.

“We weren’t able to sell them for the parade, for example, because social distancing wasn’t there,” Wince said. “And there were other roadblocks that came up.”

Due to the pandemic, no sales were allowed through several high traffic and traditional t-shirt outlets.

The overall goal of the TETWP campaign is $30,000 and the funds, which all stay local, are used to help cancer patients with expenses that arise as a result of their treatment.

“We usually make $5,000 to $6,000,” Wince said. “We’re selling $10 shirts. Obviously, it takes a lot of sales.”

Wince said that as far as the overall campaign goes, the rodeo is the biggest effort, but doesn’t bring in the greatest amount of the entire campaign.

“It’s all focused on that piece, but by the time the rodeo comes, most people have already bought their shirts,” Wince said. “It’s at the end of the campaign. It is the most important jewel in the whole campaign, but it doesn’t bring in the highest percentage of the total amount.”

Wince said she thinks booth sales were up so much because this year, the rodeo was so big.

“Our expectations were that people might not have the funds because there has been so much that has gone on with COVID, we had no clue what was going to happen and I was shocked how much money we brought in,” Wince said. “That’s a lot more shirts, when every year it’s about the same. And this year, it was just amazing.”

Wince said that, additionally, three other factors were at work in the Foundation’s favor.

“So many people wanted to come somewhere that did not have COVID numbers that were high and also was not in an ordered shelter in place,” Wince said. “People would come to the booth and they would say, ‘It’s so nice to be in a state that’s free during this period.’ And those are direct words I heard from a lot of people. ‘Your state is so free right now to make your choices.’”

Wince said the second reason, she believes, is, that people are really aware of needs of others right now.

“Because of how COVID has opened up our minds to how much we need each other,” she said.

And third? Well, that’s a given.

“Because the Days of ’76 rodeo is so phenomenally popular and other rodeos were cancelled in other states, so people came to see and participate in this rodeo,” Wince said.

While the overall TETWP campaign numbers are still being finalized, Wince said they are looking very encouraging, as well.

“I feel very positive that we will get close to that $30,000 goal,” she said.

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