Cowboy Up Ride for a Cancer Cure

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Parade of horses leaving McLeod, ND. Photo by Ley Bouchard for the Valley Equestrian News.

Cowboy Up Ride for a Cancer Cure

As published in the August Red River Promoter

By Ley Bouchard

Incredible stories of love, faith, and hope surround people who have experienced, suffered, lived and died fighting the scourge disease we call cancer. There are few people that have

Cowboy Up parade begins with the flags displayed at the start of the riders and horses leaving McLeod, ND. Photo by Ley Bouchard for the Valley Equestrian News.

not experienced or been touched by the disease.

According to a Huffington Post article, Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world and its incidence continues to rise. Each year 12.7 million people discover they have cancer and 7.6 million people die from the disease.”

It began with one man’s dream:  Bruce VanDenEinde wanted to do a horse ride for cancer with his horse, Buster, and donate the money to cancer. Bruce and his wife Carol mulled over the idea, enlisted the help of Bruce’s brother, Wes and his wife, Carol, and some of their closest, life-long friends, and the organizing began. That was 14 years ago.

Parade of horses leaving McLeod, ND. Photo by Ley Bouchard for the Valley Equestrian News.

As of last year, the group had raised $691,232!

Karen and Tim Haugen volunteered their help as part of the original gang that started the event 14 years ago. “Cowboy Up is so much more to than a trail ride,” Karen says. “Whether you can ride a horse or not there are plenty of activities in town for everyone to enjoy. All proceeds benefit the Roger Maris Cancer Center. Come for the day or for the weekend — bring the Family — everyone is welcome!  Rain or shine the event goes on, Cancer doesn’t wait for a sunny day.”

(Left) Roger Lee and others leaving McLeod on the trail ride. Photo by Ley Bouchard for the Valley Equestrian News.

“We started Cowboy Up with a group of 10 best of friends; we have lost one of those friends to cancer. We are now a committee of 15, all volunteers, we never take a nickel for our hours or money for our gas. We are in our 14th year and have given $691, 232 to the Roger Maris Cancer Center.”

Haugen said the money raised goes to pay for:

Shawna Olson with parade of horses leaving McLeod, ND. Photo by Ley Bouchard for the Valley Equestrian News.

* Comfort items insurance does not pay for, such as: gas cards, hotel vouchers, and food gift cards for patients who have to travel for treatment.

* Gift cards, toys, books, movies, and video games for the children’s cancer center and patients

* Books, magazines, and lift chairs in the waiting room

* Ice machine in the waiting area so patients and families can stay close to each other

* Snacks for the food cart – a much needed and appreciated item while sitting for hours during cancer treatments

* Provide patient support during clinical trials not covered by insurance.

“At the main event, Haugen explains, “always the 3rd Saturday of August, we have a trail ride Friday and Saturday, an Extreme Race on Friday evening, a silent auction that closes Saturday evening, a live auction late Saturday afternoon, a bake sale, bingo on

Ken Pawluk with parade of horses and riders leaving McLeod, ND. Photo by Ley Bouchard for the Valley Equestrian News.

Saturday afternoon, and the burger stand runs all day Friday and Saturday.  We serve a steak dinner on Saturday with a free will donation.

“We have a short opening ceremony on Saturday morning with a cancer survivor as a guest speaker. We close the weekend with a candle ceremony at 10 p.m. Saturday evening as one of our regular volunteers does a short talk about cancer.”

Never underestimate the power of one person to make a change for the good. Bruce VanDenEinde brought one idea forward 14 years ago and it has grown into a wonderful, memorable, anxiously anticipated event.

In 2017, 182 horseback riders, 50 volunteers, 700 steak dinners, donated silent and live auction items raised $61,895.  Hard work for some, hard fun for others!

Come join the fun August 17-18 in the beautiful Sand Hills at McLeod, N.D! Bring your support, stories and wallet for a meal, a dance, and a contribution to a great cause.  All proceeds benefit the Roger Maris Cancer Center.