LADIES AND THEIR HORSEPOWER
It all began with two gals who owned motorcycles in 2001.
It soon grew to be 10 women of varying ages and backgrounds who owned motorcycles too.
Those 10 became the Spokes Sisters-a Calgary Women’s Motorcycle Group, cruising around raising money for breast cancer research. Over five years; through annual rides through Banff and the interior of British Columbia, magic shows, downtown raffles, Denim Days At Work and Poker Runs, the group raised over $65,000 for research. No small amount.
Then, in 2005, whilst cheering her husband on from the stands at the Canadian National Team Penning Finals, Angela Pipe, co-founder of the Spokes Sisters asked team penner, Jennifer Baldwin about having the Spokes Sisters become involved (in an organizational capacity) with a ladies team penning fundraiser, as there wasn’t much riding or fundraising to be done for the Spokes Sisters over the winter.
“There isn’t one”, replied Baldwin.
Seriously, no ladies team penning. No fundraising opportunity. Nada.
Between the two, that day, on the Canadian Nationals Team Penning official program, the names of lady penners who might be interested in participating were jotted down. From that a penning committee was established which included lady bikers and lady penners.
Not wishing to deny their menfolk the opportunity to be involved, ten “Pink Stallions” were chosen – a handful of husbands who would “pretty up the place’ in tuxedoes and bow ties. Aren\’t they pretty!
A goal of raising $5,000 was targeted.
On March 25th, 2006, the inaugural Ladies Only Team Penning was held at the Okotoks Agri-Plex.
The Committee learned that one of the gals who would be coming down from Edmonton for the event was fighting breast cancer. Her name was Maxine. The event was called Horsepower to the Max in her honor and the goal of $5,000 was surpassed with a total of $27,624 raised that day.
Since that incredible beginning, the event has grown from 50 women penners to a firm 87. The number has remained low to allow for a day that’s fun filled but still ends early enough to allow for other life commitments. The Spokes Sisters have remained involved in the day and The Pink Stallions are still in place. The Stallions hold not only the herd for the ladies, but also hold their own Stallion Penning at $100 a man, which is often raised to $1,000 and more over a matter of minutes.
The rest of the funds are raised through registration fees, a silent auction, cow and herd sponsorships, and a calcutta.
“The generosity of the team penning community never fails to humble me, and not just with their cheque books but also with their generous gift of time. I think I’m in love with over 200 people! The penning committee has evolved over the years, as has the Spokes Sisters but I am always in awe of the women who have been and are still involved. How often have we all come up with an idea and it goes nowhere. With this bunch of women it doesn’t fade away – it goes places!” says Pipe.
The money raised over the past four events has benefitted not just breast cancer research but has also been put to use for tangible items for the Grace Women’s Centre in Calgary. Much needed and expensive equipment such as a biopsy bed, blanket warmers, surgical lighting, surgical equipment and a colposcope have been purchased.
A lunch room was also transformed into a Quiet Room. Here, women and their physicians can meet privately with their spouses and family members in an environment, outside of the typically cold examination rooms, to discuss diagnoses and treatments. Imagine, for a minute, what a difference that could make in a person\’s life.
Last year not just funds were donated as 13-year-old hockey player and Flames fan Liam Greer donated over 12 inches of his hair to help make wigs for cancer patients. It seemed only fitting to have those locks shorn by former Calgary Flame Paul Kruse! Liam’s mum, Tovah Place was talked into snipping off her lengthy locks too.
This year on Saturday, June 12th, it’s Horsepower for Life once again, and the fundraising goal for 2010 is $40,000, which will buy four examination beds for the Grace Hospital. These beds are both mobile and adaptable and can meet the needs of women who are physically challenged or who are over 250 pounds to ensure they receive a vaginal examination with both ease and dignity.
To date almost $200,000 has been raised by women and their varied horsepower.
And it all started with two gals on motorcycles. And two gals with big hearts and great determination, at a National Penning Final!
For more information on how you can donate to this very worthy cause, run so efficiently and selflessly by these amazing women, contact Angela Pipe at [email protected] or give her a call at (403) 816-7655.