Tough enough for a mammogram

TONASKET – North Valley Hospital (NVH) and the Omak Stampede have teamed up to promote mammograms by offering a set of two free tickets to Friday (Aug. 14) night’s program at the Omak Stampede to every woman who receives or schedules a mammogram by Thursday, Aug. 13.

“The reception up there (in Tonasket) has been really phenomenal,” said Sarah Grooms, Office Manager and Public Relations Director for the Omak Stampede. “We’ve already given out 50 sets of tickets to North Valley Hospital; and as of last night (July 30), all but fourteen sets have been given out or committed.”

Grooms said the idea for the program came about when she sat down three weeks ago with NVH CEO Mike Zwicker along with Jana Symonds, Jan Gonzales and Noreen Olma to brainstorm how to promote people coming in for mammograms.

“I told them if they wanted to promote the mammogram program, I could give away tickets to Friday night’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink program,” said Grooms. “I am so proud of what we were able to put together. The radiology department is working really hard, getting ahold of people to come in for an appointment. If you can save just one out of fifty people, the impact is huge.”

The Omak Stampede started their Tough Enough to Wear Pink program seven years ago. They give $1 from each ticket sold, and $9 from each $15 t-shirt sold to MidValley Hospital, Confluence Health and NVH to support women getting a mammogram.

“It enables women without insurance to go in and get one, or the funds can be used to help offset travel costs or co-pays,” said Grooms.

She said last year, despite ticket sales to the Omak Stampede being down due to the Carlton Complex wildfire, they were still able to donate $1700 to each of the three facilities.

“Connie Knight of Confluence Health has already sold $800 worth of the t-shirts so far this year,” said Grooms. “She has been helping us a long time and has been really phenomenal.”

“I remember the first check we got, that first year,” said NVH Board of Commissioners Chair Helen Casey. “It was for $1300, and that was so wonderful to see.”

“It’s part of our mission here at the stampede,” said Grooms, who grew up in Loomis and now lives in Okanogan. “I lost a brother and an aunt to cancer, and my boss lost his first wife to cancer. So it has hit really close to home on our board. It’s incredible when you look around the room and realize it’s going to hit one out of three people. There is not one of us that is going to get out of here unscathed by cancer, whether it is direct or indirect.”

Grooms said the Stampede’s barrel man, J.J. Harrison had volunteered to autograph the Tough Enough to Wear Pink t-shirts of anyone wearing them or bringing them in to the Stampede Friday (August 14).

A special program called Patriot Day is also in place for Veterans. Any Veteran with photo ID can get in free to the Omak Stampede’s program on Sunday, August 16, which starts at 2 p.m.