Local support for local women: Power of Pink changes lives
October 12, 2016
Each year, the number of breast cancer awareness benefits, commercials and campaigns grows. What was once a disease that few talked about is now a very publicly-recognized struggle that many women go through each year. However, for all of the national campaigns, fundraisers and drives going to support breast cancer awareness and research, there is often a lacking area on the local level. However, for the past six years, one event has changed that for breast cancer warriors throughout Barry County.
The Power of Pink Walk, Run and Auction is an annual event that goes to raise money for local women battling breast cancer. The initiative was started by Janice McCracken, a local woman who wanted to help others.
McCracken got the idea for the local Power of Pink fundraiser because of the traveling she does with her husband, rodeo clown Gizmo McCracken, on the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association circuit. She said, “Well, we travel all over to different rodeos and they do Tough Enough to Wear Pink at almost all of the PCRA rodeos. I wanted to bring that back home to where we can help our local women because a lot of the places we go do that, usually with a hospital backing them.”
Thus, Power of Pink was born. That first year, McCracken said that they were much more successful than they imagined. “We hoped to give each of the women $500 that year, and we ended up giving them $1,000 each.”
That first year, McCracken organized the event with her husband, daughters and their secretary at the time. She said, “I told my husband I wanted to do it, and he said that I didn’t have much time, but whatever I wanted to do, we would do it.” Two women benefited that first year.
To date, the Power of Pink Foundation, based out of Wheaton, has raised over $62,000 that has all gone to help 14 local women battling breast cancer. The funds are used to help cover anything from bills to travel expenses to treatments. McCracken said there is no set rule on how they spend the money, “It’s just however helps them.”
While the walk/run helps to raise money, McCracken said she doesn’t limit her fundraising to locals. While out on the circuit, she is always trying to get additional funds to help women. “When we went to Vegas for the National finals, we had a company who donated their limo service and gave a portion of their proceeds to Power of Pink. We try to raise as much money as we can no matter where it comes from to help the local ladies at home. Because every year, the more money we can raise, the more ladies we can help.”
They also hold other fundraisers, such as selling pastries, to raise more funds other times of the year. The day of the event, they held a raffle for a La-Z-Boy recliner last year.
To find women to donate money to, McCracken said they ask people to nominate someone they know. She said, “It’s been amazing how God has given us the right amount of people. God knows which ones we need to help and which ones we don’t.”
She continued, “We ask for people to nominate the women, and then I call them all and visit with them and kind of see what their feeling is like; if they want our help, if they want their name out there in public. It’s not really if one’s need is greater than the other. Everyone’s needs are the same. I just visit with them and see how they feel about it. Some people don’t want it out there and don’t want anyone to know about it.”
She said, for the most part, they’ve always had the right number of women for how much they raised. This past year, they had three women nominated and selected, and they received just over $6,000 each.
McCracken said the changes have been significant over the years. She said, “It’s amazing how much it has grown and how much we have the same people who support it every year no matter what. For that small of a community, I think it’s amazing that it keeps growing.
“They are seeing that it is going to these ladies and how much it is helping and that makes a difference also.”
So, while each October there is a lot of attention directed toward breast cancer awareness, on the local level, Mother’s Day is the date that sticks out for many women. Each year, the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, the Power of Pink raises money to help women here at home.
McCracken said, “It was just that I wanted to do this locally at home and felt the women in our area will be able to have a little more peace of mind that if they have a bill that needed to be paid, maybe we could help. Just give them a little extra to help them with whatever they need.”
For more information about the Power of Pink, their website is http://www.gizmomccracken.com/Blank.html. They can also be found on Facebook as “Power of Pink.”