Welcome to our series, #WHYoming, brought to you in partnership by Kaumo Law.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
This week, I had a chance to sit down with Margaret Parry, the founder of Cowboys Against Cancer. Margaret moved to Sweetwater County in 1976 and started Cowboys Against Cancer in 1994.
When I first approached Margaret about doing this interview, her immediate response was, “Why me and not one of the Cowboys Against Cancer volunteers?”
By the end of our interview, I came to the conclusion that it would be a difficult task to find someone more selfless or someone who cares more deeply about the people of Sweetwater County than Margaret Parry does.
This community series is brought to you by:
Margaret, what is Cowboys Against Cancer?
Cowboys Against Cancer is a 100 percent volunteer organization that raises money to grant to cancer patients that live in Sweetwater County.
Why did you start Cowboys Against Cancer?
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 percent volunteer.
No one is paid to help with Cowboys Against Cancer so all the monies can be given to cancer patients here. However, now that we have our cancer treatment center at the hospital, Cowboys Against Cancer also helps people who have treatments at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.
Can you tell me a bit about the Cowboys Against Cancer benefit and banquet event that’s coming up on November 3?
There’s just so much that happens the evening of Cowboys Against Cancer. We have a small program and a tribute to cancer survivors. We sell bananas for $20 each. There’s 30 different prizes that go with those bananas. The song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” plays while we’re selling the bananas, and we have a high school student that dresses as a gorilla and two others dress as bananas. It’s a lot of fun. It happens right after we honor the survivors, and that can get a little bit emotional, so it’s a fun way to lighten the mood.
We have a dollar auction so everybody that attends can feel like they can give back to the community. Not everybody can afford a live auction item or even a silent auction item. But everybody feels like they can pull out $10 or $20 dollars and buy dollar tickets and have a good chance of winning something.
We have an incredible, gourmet dinner made by 35 chefs who come from five different states, and they all work for free. This is the 19th year the chefs have come and they all donate their time. Nobody is paid, and a lot of the food is donated by the vendors they work with.
After the live auction, the band the Sundowners play so people can dance. It’s a very, very fun night. It can be pretty emotional at times, but at other times, people are laughing and having a great time.
We have a memory wall where we honor the people who have passed away. The evening can be very emotional but it’s also a lot of fun. When you leave that night, you feel really good because you know you have helped someone in our county who is fighting cancer.
How can people help with Cowboys Against Cancer?
There are so many different ways that people can help with Cowboys Against Cancer. They can donate money, they can donate an auction item, they can attend the event, or they can be one of our volunteers. We always need volunteers to help.
We start setting up our event on Wednesday, October 31, and it takes us until Friday night to set up. Then, cleanup is Sunday. We always love to have people come help us clean up. For anyone that wants to volunteer, all they have to do to is call my office or get on our Facebook page and say they want to be a volunteer. My office number is 307-382-9606.
There’s no way of telling how many people Cowboys Against Cancer have helped– the magnitude is too big. We have given away almost $6 million here. We help 135 to 150 people each year. But if you go to the event, or you donate an item, or you donate money, you need to remember that you have made a difference in someone’s life.
Let’s talk about your business, Bottom Line Marketing. What does your business do?
I started Bottom Line Marketing 18 years ago. We sell advertising specialty products that help a business advertise their business. A lot of people think of coffee cups and pens, however, I probably couldn’t make a living off of coffee cups or pens, so there’s a million products you could put your name on. It’s a way for people to advertise either what they’re doing for an event or their bus.
How did you end up in Sweetwater County?
I moved to Green River in July 1976, so I’ve been here over 42 years now. I moved here with my husband. He was setting up a dental practice in Green River. Then, when I started my business 18 years ago, I realized I really need to be in Rock Springs instead of driving that highway a lot, so I moved to Rock Springs.
What is something unique about you?
There are no strangers. I can talk to anyone. I love people and I like to talk to people and find out about them.
I also have small feet for my height– 6.5 shoe size and I’m 5’9”. But people don’t want to know that, do they?
What are some of your hobbies?
My hobbies are spending time with my children and my grandchildren. I like to spend time with family. Anything we can do together is a hobby of mine. We try to take 3 big family trips a year.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
When I moved here in 1976, Sweetwater County was growing. It had a huge population increase because the Trona mines were hiring people from all over the United States. A lot of people moved here and left their friends and family to come here. So we became a very close-knit community. We all became friends and each other’s families, and I appreciate that.
I also appreciate the fact that Sweetwater County people are extremely generous with their money and with their time, and it doesn’t matter what volunteer organization they’re helping. The people here are amazing. They’re always there to help their neighbors and also people they don’t know.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
You always feel better when you’re helping someone else.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
My house. I love being home. It’s my favorite place to be.
Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse or drive a car?
If the weather’s nice, I love to walk. However, I will drive because I don’t like being cold.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
First of all, I wouldn’t sing. I have a terrible voice. However, if I had to, I’d get one of those harmonizers so I sounded really good.
I would sing that song by Louis Armstong, “What a Wonderful World”. When I had cancer, I was driving from Rock Springs to Green River one day, and I heard that song on the radio. It was right after my treatments, and I was so thankful to be alive. I realized that we do have a wonderful world, and we need to appreciate it.
I actually used that song at the first Cowboys Against Cancer. I just love that song.
How would your friends describe you?
I have a girlfriend that says I am vagarious, spontaneous, and hilarious. However, I wish that 100 percent of my friends would just say that I am a nice and kind person.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
My children and my grandchildren.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Another one of my girlfriends said I remind her of Lucille Ball. So I know she has passed away, but I would want Lucille Ball to play me in a movie.
Why do you continue to live in Wyoming?
This is my home. I have 42 years of roots here. Also, I want Cowboys Against Cancer to continue and to help other people.