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2:32 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Tough Enough auction to raise money for local breast cancer patients

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier, file<br>Prescott cowboy artist Bill Nebeker poses with some of his work in 2009. Nebeker is donating his sculpture titled “Jigger Boss,” below, to raise money for breast cancer research.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier, file<br>Prescott cowboy artist Bill Nebeker poses with some of his work in 2009. Nebeker is donating his sculpture titled “Jigger Boss,” below, to raise money for breast cancer research.

People who are "tough enough to wear pink" in rodeo cowboy country will prove the strength of their mettle at a dinner on June 21 to raise money for the fight against breast cancer.

The "Tough Enough to Wear Pink?" evening will take place in the Danny Freeman Building, the "cowboyest" of buildings at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.

The dinner is not to be confused with "Tough Enough to Wear Pink?" night that Wrangler sponsors at the Prescott Frontier Days World's Oldest Rodeo on July 1, when competing cowboys don pink, also to stimulate the quest for finding a cure for breast cancer and helping those who suffer from it.

"Tough Enough to Wear Pink?" began when California entrepreneur Terry Wheatley teamed up with the former director of special events at Wrangler, Karl Stressman, and called for a challenge to wear the color pink during competition at the Wrangler (National Finals Rodeo) NFR. The idea caught on with rodeo associations that wanted to help at their own hometown rodeo events. The grassroots cowboy campaign is now in its 9th year, and the June 21 dinner will be Prescott's third such event.

A highlight of the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink?" dinner will be the an auction for an original piece of artwork by artist Bill Nebeker called "Jigger Boss," which is valued at $1,800.

The term "jigger boss" dates back to the 1830s, when Irish and Scottish immigrants were digging the Erie Canal and building the intercontinental railroad, Nebeker said.

"The work was back-breaking, so part of each laborer's wages was a jigger of whiskey brought several times a day by the 'jigger boss."

Nebeker, who donated his original sculpture to the fundraiser, said legend has it that the laborers imbibed so much during the day that by night they were drunk. Over time, the cattle industry began using the term in reference to the cowboy who worked under the wagon boss on big ranches. His job was to organize the day's work for each cowboy out on the wagon, Nebeker said.

A silent auction will feature Coach purses, gift cards, oil changes, meals at Murphy's restaurant, a beaded western belt, jewelry and more, Mary Ann Suttles, who serves on the Prescott Frontier Days Board, said. Models will show off Western wear and other fashions from Dillard's Department Store.

Tickets to the event, which starts at 5:30 p.m., are $25. Tickets are available at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds on Rodeo Drive in Prescott, or by calling 778-2975, 710-7940 or the rodeo office, 445-3103.Dinner is at 7 p.m., and the auction for the Nebeker sculpture will take place after dinner.

A "Tough Enough to Wear Pink?" booth will be set up on the rodeo grounds during the entire rodeo, selling merchandise, such as pink bracelets, scarves and hats, to benefit the fight against breast cancer, Suttles said.

All of the proceeds from "Tough Enough to Wear Pink?" fundraising stay in the local area and are used for Fry's gift cards for cancer patients in need, Suttles said. The cards help patients buy gasoline, prescription medications, and food, for example, Suttles said, adding it's important that people know that the money raised at the dinner and at the booth during the rodeo "stays in the local area."