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Rancheros Visitadores to Ride Again in Support of Breast Cancer Awareness, Cancer Center Programs

For the fifth year in a row, the Rancheros Visitadores have partnered with Wrangler Jeans and the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Foundation to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer patients throughout Santa Barbara County.

Their upcoming event marks the 86th ride for the Rancheros that begins each year with a festive parade through the streets of Solvang to Mission Santa Ines.

On May 7, 2016, the tradition continues around 2:30 p.m., when a parade of approximately 700 cowboys on horseback and carriages will occur along Alisal Road.

Through the Rancheros’s efforts, over $400,000 has been contributed to the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic since 2012, and an additional $114,000 has been raised so far toward the 2016 ride.

All of the proceeds help local breast cancer patients at the Cancer Center cover the costs of various procedures and services, including clinical research trials, wellness classes and support programs, hereditary cancer risk counseling, nurse navigation and lymphedema education and screening.

These services are available to all breast cancer patients who reside in Santa Barbara County regardless of where they receive treatment or their ability to pay.

Those who support the cause of finding a cure for breast cancer are encouraged to save the date for this inspirational event.

“The Rancheros have been returning to Santa Barbara County and the Santa Ynez Valley for more than 85 years. Though our members come from far and wide, this valley is the Rancheros’ home, and we have found a cause we believe in,” said Ranchero Steve Beneto. “We feel it is important to give back to the community we return to year after year, and our goal is to raise over $100,000 again this year. Over the years the response to our appeal has been fantastic as we continue our support of the Cancer Center and their excellent care of breast cancer patients and their families on the central coast.”

“We are honored by the Rancheros’ longstanding support that began back in 2012,” said Rob Dunton, director of philanthropy at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic. “Each year since, the Rancheros have sported a new pink Wrangler shirt and paraded down Alisal Road. Some add pink scarves or chaps, the carriages are decorated, and pink banners wave. For anyone touched by cancer, it is a powerful and emotional sight to see. More and more onlookers are getting into it and are wearing pink too. We are indebted to the Rancheros for their part in ensuring all aspects of our patient’s physical, mental and psychological needs are tended to throughout treatment, recovery and survivorship, all while doing our part to help find a cure.”

Within one mile of Rancheros’ parade route sits the Cancer Center’s Solvang office (2040 Viborg Rd #140, Solvang). This busy oncology office has expanded to accommodate a nearly 70 percent increase in patients since the Cancer Center partnered with Sansum Clinic.

This small country office cared for over 1,000 cancer patients in 2015 and reflects the rural community in which it is situated and is decorated with handsome photographs taken from around the valley. 

It is also home to an equestrian bronze statue donated by the Rancheros in 2014. The sculpture, entitled Victory Ride by Joni Perry (sister of Ranchero Tom Perry), has a powerful cancer story behind it: the bronze depicts three young girls blissfully enjoying a horseback ride, each a likeness of Joni’s three granddaughters.

Joni was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, was re-diagnosed in 2005 (stage IV) and eventually succumbed to cancer in 2012. She dedicated Victory Ride to her mother, brother and sister-in-law who were all battling cancer at the same time.

“My hope is that it can be as encouraging to others as it has been to me in sculpting it,” expressed Joni before her passing.

While Perry’s bronze inspires those in the waiting room of the Cancer Center’s Solvang office, the Rancheros Tough Enough to Wear Pink parade provides hope and inspiration to thousands each May.

Liz Baker is a marketing supervisor at Sansum Clinic.


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