POSTED ON AUGUST 14, 2013:
Real Men Wear Pink
Bull riders support local organization
When most people think of what color goes with bull riding, they come up with some interesting choices: black and blue for the bruises they may receive during an event, red for the blood they may spill during an injury, and some might even come up with the different color variations for a rodeo clown's makeup design for each event.
One color many fans of the extreme sport probably wouldn't name is pink. Maybe it isn't manly enough. Or maybe it's the color reserved for the medium-rare steak that constitutes the after-show meal.
This weekend, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) are going to be changing some fans' minds.
The PBR and Turn Tulsa Pink join forces on Saturday, August 17th, the final night of the PBR Express Employment Professionals Classic, which will be Turn Tulsa Pink night at the BOK Center.
All bull riders are encouraged to wear pink for the event, as are all the fans. The first 500 fans who enter will be given a Buck Off Cancer t-shirt. Fans missing out on the punny shirt will be able to purchase one at the Turn Tulsa Pink booth that will be set in the BOK during the event.
"It is our honor to help raise awareness of Turn Tulsa Pink and its activities that help benefit our fans in Tulsa," said Jim Haworth, chairman and CEO of the PBR.
Turn Tulsa Pink started in February 2nd of 2011 in a dream. Not as a dream, but in one.
"I dreamt I was walking down South Boston Avenue towards the BOK Center, and I had on a pink wig and pink tutu and I looked down at the pavement and it turned pink and as I looked up the BOK tower was pink as well," said Judi Grove, director of Turn Tulsa Pink.
"Pink to me means power, passion, and love," she said. "And it can be the color for all people fighting cancer, not just one."
By now, most people know about Turn Tulsa Pink, whether through the local news, newspaper, or by seeing one of the three pink emergency vehicles around town. Yes, that's why they're pink. Why didn't you just ask someone instead of wondering why that ambulance is pink?
Grove herself is a cancer survivor.
In 2007, she was faced with a breast cancer scare and decided to make a cast of her breasts in case a mastectomy would be necessary to rid her of the cancer. She met owner of Anticipation Ultrasound Studio in Tulsa, Nancy Coryell and together they founded Breast Impressions, hoping to raise cancer awareness.
Since Breast Impressions began, more than 200 breast casting kits for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to make "memories" of their breasts have been sent out.
As great as the organization was doing, Grove knew there was more to do.
"After I won the Tulsey award in 2010, I just felt I wasn't worthy of that award," she said. "I felt like I needed to be helping more people do more things and not necessarily for breast cancer, but for all people, no matter what kind of cancer.
"I was touched by people with different kinds of cancer and wanted to help those who were falling through the cancer, whether it was paying for medical bills or making trips back and forth from treatments with gas cards, the littlest acts of kindness helps," Grove said.
Since that dream that began Turn Tulsa Pink, many people have jumped on the little wagon Grove was pulling in her dream, contributing more than $250,000 with the money going through ten of the local charities throughout Northeastern Oklahoma. They were even able to provide four students with scholarships to attend college.
"We believe that charity begins at home," Grove said.
So how does a non-profit organization get the attention of a big sporting event such as Professional Bull Riding?
It all began with a campaign.
"We have a program or campaign called Real Men wear Pink," Grove said of the campaign that caught PBR's eye.
The campaign started with Jeff James, who passed away due to cancer. His family requested donations to Turn Tulsa Pink in lieu of flowers.
Enough donations came in to allow the organization to print T-shirts. Money from shirt sales ended up as what Grove described as a "purse of funds" for a cancer-stricken man whose needs didn't fit under one of the ten local charities that Turn Tulsa Pink worked with, so TTP decided to help him directly.
"The shirts became kind of an overnight phenomenon," Grove said.
YouTube has helped the campaign with videos of men from area, who support or are cancer survivors, wearing the shirts urging and other men of Tulsa to join the cause and help bring awareness to the city along with a few councilmen including Tulsa's own Dewey Bartlett.
This caught the eye of bull rider Luke Snyder and rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen from PBR, and they wanted to help.
"They bought T-shirts and wanted to know what they could do to help," said Grove about the riders' involvement.
Snyder and Rasmussen then began their own campaign for Turn Tulsa Pink from within the PBR.
"They gave the word to the administration of PBR about Turn Tulsa Pink, and that's how they contacted and asked us, 'How we can help?'" said Grove.
The two-day PBR begins Friday when riders will be making appearances and visiting patients at the St. Francis Children's Hospital and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Later in the evening, the riders will perform for the fans at the BOK center at 8-11pm.
Saturday night's performance will be the official "Turn Tulsa Pink" night, with the BOK Center booming with pink lighting and all three pink emergency vehicles in attendance.
Along with the BOK's exterior, the event itself will be lit with pink lighting all night.
The organization will be selling T-shirts, handing out raffle tickets for their raffle drawing, and holding a silent auction during the event with the grand prize item being a pink cast-iron bull signed by all 35 riders of the event.
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