A Ride of Fifty Lifetimes featuring Miss Rodeo North Carolina & Miss Rodeo Wisconsin
October 29, 2017 - Before it all began, Miss Rodeo Wisconsin 2017 Katelin Bradley couldn’t name a single person in her life who had been affected by breast cancer. She was one of the lucky few who had managed to live her 23 years without experiencing, first hand, the devastation cancer causes, but late last September, after selling her own horse to meet the financial demands of competing for Miss Rodeo America, cancer found her.
Just like many who dance with the disease, unexpectedly, on a random Saturday afternoon, cancer and its challenges found her. Not in a sterile hospital room but along the rodeo road with Miss Rodeo North Carolina, Nicki Moody. “She told me of a conversation that had changed her life and then she challenged me,” said Bradley of the fateful conversation that began it all.
It was a simple conversation, really. In July in Greeley, Colorado, while discussing preparation for the horsemanship portion of the Miss Rodeo America 2018 pageant, a mentor of Moody’s gave her a challenge. “I bet you can’t ride 50 horses in a month,” he said with the wry, sly smile of a cowboy who had known more than a few horses in his lifetime.
A true cowgirl at heart and forever the champion of the impossible, Nicki looked within herself and replied, “I bet I can.” And from there, she began on a journey that would leave her and countless others forever changed for the better.
Over the course of the next few months she carefully constructed a plan. She decided to call it the “50 Pink Horses October Challenge.” Partnering with not only the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Foundation but also the Pretty in Pink Foundation, which started in her home state of North Carolina, Nicki chose to serve others. Instead of simply preparing for the horsemanship portion of Miss Rodeo America, she insisted on using her time, energy and influence to raise money and awareness for women who had been affected by breast cancer.
“It was a way, she decided, to be practiced and prepared while doing something great for the people in her community,” said Bradley of her friend’s challenge.
The challenge was simple in aim but complex in execution: Each queen took it upon herself to line up the horses to ride each day and meet with survivors and family members alike to hear their harrowing stories.
Saddled up on a stranger’s horse, day after day, horse after horse, Nicki and her friends rode for woman after woman. Nicki decided to record each ride in a Facebook group named after the Challenge. There, story after story is listed so simply upon the group wall.
After reading the stories of the rides made in tribute to so many courageous women, one can’t help but be affected. All at once the cold diagnoses becomes real enough to have a name and a face, many names and many faces, to be honest.
“I have to confess,” Nicki said, “the challenge was difficult. It demanded lots of my time, attention and energy but I began to realize that so many of these women and families that breast cancer had affected didn’t get to choose whether to meet their challenge with cancer. Cancer chose them and I’m certain it was never convenient. They didn’t have the time. They didn’t prepare… it just happened. They chose to fight and if they were brave enough to face the challenge, how could I not meet mine? Especially when it was so simple by comparison?” “It challenged me and it changed me. I have met so many courageous people who inspire me to be my best. This is nothing compared to what these ladies faced. I should be riding 1,000 horses!”
Nicki wasn’t the only one whose life was forever impacted by the October challenge. Miss Rodeo Wisconsin Katelin Bradley rose to the occasion as well. She too took the 50 Pink Horses October challenge and has met it. “I am so grateful for this challenge, as it has shown me how many generous, great, brave and loving people make up the state of Wisconsin.”
All in total, 14 state queens have pledged to take part in the 50 Pink Horses October challenge. That’s 700 women honored for fighting the bravest battle of their lives. Now, just one month later, Miss Rodeo Wisconsin 2017, Katelin Bradley counts herself blessed to know and name hundreds of people breast cancer has affected and is proud to have been a part of honoring them, their courage and their memory.
If you would like to join these state queens in raising funds and awareness for breast cancer survivors and their families, you can make donations on the Go Fund Me Page Nicki has established for the challenge. All proceeds go to the Pretty in Pink foundation, a nonprofit that gives funds & support to those meeting financial hardships while battling cancer.
Crystal Grace Hansen is a western lifestyle writer dedicated to shining a spotlight on the fashion, names, faces and places of the western lifestyle. CEO of MyRodeoQueenCoach.com and a diehard coffee fan, she can always be found with a strong but sweet cup of joe in hand while wearing copious amounts of turquoise jewelry.