Gunnison TETWP expands transport fleet

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Gunnison’s Cattlemen’s Days finds unique ways to give back to community all year through TETWP and new patient transportation vehicle

GUNNISON, Colo. – The Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough to Wear Pink board understands what it means to meet the needs of the community beyond the annual rodeo.

Through its efforts over the last 13 years, more than $2 million has been to raise needed equipment and assist those families that are battling breast cancer. But there are more needs that must to be met in the Gunnison Valley throughout the year and future struggles that need to be addressed.

“Members of our committee got invited to a community transportation meeting, and one of the needs that was identified was for patients to get transportation for medical appointments out of town,” said Michael Dawson, a TETWP board member, who pointed to the existing RAM 1500 pickup nicknamed “Tuffy” that has been used for breast cancer patients for the last couple of years to get breast cancer patients to necessary treatments way from their home hospital.

While Tuffy has served the breast cancer community well, the board realized there was a necessity for another vehicle. A second vehicle, a 2018 Dodge Durango nicknamed “Bucky,” has been purchased and will be utilized for other patients and to meet the community needs for all cancer patients.

“It’s being able to serve the entire community,” said Carol Ann May, a TETWP board member who, with her husband, Jim Saindon, donated the money for the Durango. “We just found there was a big need. It makes a big difference in changing people’s lives; sometimes they don’t have the vehicle that can take them to all their trips, and we are grateful to help fill this need.  The TETWP board agreed and gladly signed up for this expansion to their transportation program for local patients.

“I just think it’s a good thing to do for our community to take that one part of angst out of getting to the appointments. TETWP takes care of the gas and vehicle maintenance. Our community members have a safe vehicle to get back and forth to their appointments. If we can do that one thing, then it’s important.”

The fact it’s now available to all cancer patients is unique and special.

“Both Jim and I have had family members that have been impacted by cancer,” May said. “I know what it means when people are struggling and want to be there for their families or relieve the extra burden of how they can make their next appointment. TETWP wants to take as much burden away as possible for our community members suffering through these terrible diseases.”

That’s been the sentiment for most involved in the TETWP campaign since its inception.

“Hopefully we can start getting people safely to where they need to go,” Dawson said. “Our ultimate goal is to get to where all services are here at Gunnison Valley Hospital, but until then, we’re doing everything we can to help cancer patients locally get to the best treatment available.”

May and Saindon also have been instrumental in expanding Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days TETWP reach throughout the year to the community and through all new sports event benefits on the horizon. Their generosity funded a new Tough Enough to Wear Pink wrestling mat for the Gunnison wrestling community. The mat will be used at duels and tournaments for the nationally ranked Western State Colorado University program, at Gunnison High School and on down to the pee-wee and Duster wrestling club for youth in the spring and summer.

“Western State is a constant Division II top 10 contender and engenders a powerhouse wrestling program in our region,” Dawson said. “I’m assistant coach with the Gunnison High School program. This is a pretty big wrestling community, and we wanted to get the kids excited about our awesome 118-year rodeo tradition, our TETWP efforts and get these young athletes energized in raising funds for our community while they compete. Our new motto is ‘Pinning Cancer Every Bout.’

“This is also a celebration for our great organization and to build up momentum for all our wrestling programs to support Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days TETWP. Through the national Tough Enough to Wear Pink platform and our strong Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo, we want to extend the reach of our community contribution beyond our July rodeo, just like TETWP did for its Pink in the Rink women’s hockey tournament in October each year.”

The message, and a keen understanding of how much wrestling means to the region, were why May and Saindon got involved with the TETWP wrestling mat program.

“My son was a wrestler when he was in high school, so it made sense to us to be involved in this new and exciting project,” she said. “Putting a wrestling mat together, getting the logo on the mat and doing fundraising through the competitions was something we saw as beneficial to the community.

“I know these mats are permanent things, and with our TETWP logo on the mat and the local wrestlers competing in uniforms with our logos, it would be such a visual thing. I thought it would be a good opportunity to create more awareness within the community, celebrate our success and raise more funds for TETWP.”

It’s a true win-win-win situation for all involved.

The ground-breaking Tuffy transportation program, now expanded with the Bucky vehicle to all cancer patent, together with the Pink in the Rink tournament, shows Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days’ commitment to giving back to its community year-round beyond the annual rodeo celebration and rodeo each July.

Being complacent with success is not an option in this group. The members are always looking to expand the message, reach and, more importantly, give back to the Gunnison community, in line with the TETWP mission. Extending the Gunnison TETWP fundraising platform to the strong wrestling community in Gunnison seems like a natural fit to raise even more funds and give back to even more facets of this special community in the cool Colorado mountains.


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