Whether you are a wanna-be wrangler, a wild West enthusiast, or simply curious about the cowboy lifestyle, a dozen volunteers are offering an opportunity to learn the ropes of rodeo at the Second Annual Chicks N Chaps at the 2015 Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the Tucson Rodeo.
In the process, you can help give breast cancer the boot.
“Chicks N Chaps is an insider’s look at rodeo, so if you’ve never rodeoed and you don’t know anything country, it is a great way to experience something you are not going to experience anywhere else,” said Samantha Bivens, who participated in the event last year. “It is an event that is unique to Tucson and I am a big supporter of local traditions. Tie that in with fighting breast cancer and you have two things that are too good to pass up.”
The Amphitheater High School grad and second-generation University of Arizona alumna was so inspired by the day-long rodeo clinic that she volunteers as decorations chair for the fundraiser.
Bivens said that she was “blown away” by the event, which takes participants “behind the chutes” with a variety of demonstrations and presentations including Pro Rodeo Hall-of-Famer Bennie Beutler of Beutler & Son Rodeo Company, which provides horses and bulls for rodeos across the nation.
Beutler will cover topics including Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association regulations for broncs and bulls, and care and transportation of rodeo livestock.UA rodeo team coach John Marchello, will discuss chute structure and function as well as the pairing of calves, steers and riders and other details.
“It was so informative. They discuss the importance of keeping those animals healthy. Lots of people don’t understand that rodeo animals are prized and extreme care is taken to make sure they are not hurt,” Bivens said.
Other presentations include an overview of Tucson rodeo history by Tucson Rodeo manager Gary Williams; insight on the technical aspects of competition by PRCA rodeo announcer Wayne Brooks; and clinics that allow participants to experience rodeo events such as barrel racing, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding and bronc riding. Participants do not ride horses and the event is open to men and women.
“A lot of the participants had never been to the rodeo and didn’t realize that the cowboys and their mounts are both athletes. They gained a new respect for that. But at the end of the day, it is all about coming together and creating an environment that is supportive of those who are fighting breast cancer,” said Mary Davis, chairwoman of Chicks ‘N’ Chaps Tucson, an affiliate of the national nonprofit that originated in Montana.
All proceeds from the fundraiser will support breast cancer research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, which has been designated one of 41 comprehensive cancer centers nationwide by the National Cancer Institute. The designation is reserved for centers focusing on patient care as well as basic and clinical research, prevention, education, outreach and training.
Sara Hammond, the center’s director of public affairs, said that patients with breast cancer have access to a diverse group of practitioners to address comprehensive well-being including breast specialists, surgical and medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, imaging specialists and others.
She said that the center also provides laboratory and clinical research with clinical trials that offer cutting-edge procedures, treatments and therapies.
“Under one roof a patient can see a radiation therapist, surgeon, medical oncologist, psychiatrist and various specialties that collaborate to serve each patient as a team,” Hammond said.
Donations such as those from Chicks N Chaps are vital to fund research that can improve treatments and prevention and possibly facilitate a cure, according to Hammond.
Moving forward, Davis said she hopes to continue to boost the profile of Chicks N Chaps while raising more funds to battle breast cancer on the local front.
“There are so many people in our community who suffer from breast cancer and to be able to help our community is the dominant objective of the event. We are local people raising money for our neighbors and friends who have been suffering,” Davis said.