When the Eugene Pro Rodeo rolls around each July, Jaymie Woods sees pink.
Jaymie and her family don pink one night of the rodeo each year for Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, to raise awareness about breast cancer and to support survivors through Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program.
“I lost my mom to breast cancer in 2005,” Jaymie says. “She was a spirited, loving woman and losing her was devastating.”
Jaymie’s mom, Karla Defoe, had a passion for people and horses. Alongside her husband, Major Defoe, she was a driving force in resurrecting the Eugene Pro Rodeo, which is now entering its 27th year and draws competitors and spectators from around the United States.
Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, and the rodeo itself, is truly a family affair. Jaymie’s father, Major Defoe, her brother and sister, as well as their spouses and children all play a role in organizing, operating and participating in the event each year.
After her mother’s passing, Jaymie and her family wanted to find a way to honor Karla and to help support breast cancer survivors in the community, so Jaymie reached out to OCF Executive Director Amy Johnston.
“I called Amy and I spilled my guts to her. I said, ‘What can we do?'” Jaymie says. “I wanted to know that the money we were going to raise would go directly to patient assistance. And with OCF, I felt good knowing the funds stay right here in Lane County.”
“Jaymie does an incredible job each year coming up with creative, fun ways for the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s participants to get in the spirit to raise awareness and funds through Tough Enough to Wear Pink,” Amy Johnston says. “One year, participants filled boots, another year balls were thrown toward a target in the arena for prizes. What doesn’t change from year to year is the Defoe family’s commitment to honoring their mother and wife by helping other local women who are battling breast cancer. We are honored to be a part of something that is so personal and meaningful.”
The power of pink
During the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, cowboys, staff and spectators proudly wear pink clothing in a show of solidarity for breast cancer awareness. Attendance at the event has grown over the years, creating an impressive display of pink throughout the arena at the Oregon Horse Center.
“While the loss of my mom is still very raw and emotional for me, even after 13 years, I think this is a wonderful way to honor her legacy,” Jaymie says. “For all the families who have been touched by cancer, I see our event as a show of community support. I appreciate each and every person who comes out and wears pink.”
Jaymie and her family are focused on making the rodeo a family-friendly event, and bringing back the nostalgia that Jaymie remembers so well.
“I have very fond memories of the rodeo as a kid growing up. The rodeo is special and it’s a tradition. I want families to experience that and make memories of their own here.”
Join the Fun
What: Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night at the Eugene Pro Rodeo
When: Tues., July 3, 2018
Gates open at 5:30 p.m., Grand Entry begins at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Oregon Horse Center
90751 Prairie Road, Eugene
Wear your pink attire or purchase some at the event. Participate in the Pink Frisbee Toss for your chance to win prizes, including a $1,000 gift card from Jerry’s Home Improvement Center. All proceeds benefit Oregon Cancer Foundation.