ROCK SPRINGS — The Cowboys Against Cancer (CAC) Benefit and Banquet is back for its 27th year this weekend, continuing a tradition where community members and businesses donate to support cancer patients.
CAC was first started in 1994 by the nonprofit’s president, Margaret Parry, after she underwent her own breast cancer diagnosis. She was diagnosed in 1992 and found herself among the many cancer patients who had to make multiple roundtrips to Salt Lake City for treatment. Now that people can get treatments locally at the Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, travel isn’t always an issue but cancer treatment is still costly and exhausting.
The organization provides financial grants to cancer patients in active treatment for whatever needs the recipient chooses, whether it be gas, hotel, travel, or other expenses.
In a previous interview with SweetwaterNOW, Parry said that she started CAC as a thank you to the community that supported her through her treatments.
“I started Cowboys Against Cancer because of the love and concern that was shown to me while I was undergoing my own cancer treatments for a year. I decided that I wanted to thank the residents of Sweetwater County by starting an organization that would raise funds to grant to people that have cancer that have to travel outside of Sweetwater County for treatment, and it had to be 100% volunteer,” she said.
The volunteer status of the organization is something Parry is very proud of, saying CAC would not be able to exist without the dedicated work from the large group of volunteers. With everyone being volunteers, it ensures that all of the monies raised go straight to cancer patients. Year after year, she is quick to praise the volunteers for keeping CAC going.
“Volunteers are the backbone of CAC,” Parry said. “They come from all walks of life. Many are family and friends of cancer patients. Some are cancer survivors or local businesses, volunteer organizations, high school students and employees of the mines or energy companies.”
Volunteers vary from third or fourth generation residents of Sweetwater County to not being local at all. Even the chefs that prepare the meal are volunteers.
“Our team includes a group of volunteer chefs and cooks who travel from multiple states to Rock Springs and work diligently to prepare a multi-course gourmet meal,” she said.
While volunteers work throughout the year to provide grants to cancer patients, the organizations primary fundraising event is the annual benefit and banquet. This event takes a lot of volunteer work and hours to pull off, Parry said.
This year’s benefit and banquet is Nov. 4 at the Sweetwater Events Complex.
“A capacity crowd will enjoy an evening supporting the gift of caring,” Parry said.
Cowboys Against Cancer has provided more than $6 million in grants to cancer patients over the years, all thanks to the generous support received. Parry said that there are more than 120 sponsors, donors and businesses who support CAC with donations. Some sponsors are even located out of state.
“These are companies and individuals who learn about Cowboys Against Cancer, and they want to participate,” Parry said. “Cowboys Against Cancer truly is a dream that continues.”