Over the years, Susan Boss noticed a disturbing pattern among many of her customers. Every time she turned around, another customer had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
She knew she had to do something, so she spear-headed the creation of Be the Boss of You, a trail ride for equine enthusiasts. Proceeds from the fundraiser, hosted by Boss Brothers Country Store, would be donated entirely to breast cancer research.
“I have three friends who are newly diagnosed and I have customers who have it,” Boss said. “I really felt like we needed to honor these women, who also happen to be our customers.”
The fundraiser, now in its second year, offers more than raising awareness of the disease. The event promotes preventative measures like mammograms, self-examinations and regular doctor check ups.
“We take care of our family, we take care of the barn, all the animals and you just keep putting yourself last,” said Boss, explaining the charity’s theme. “Then before you know it, you’ve got a problem. We want women to think about their health first.”
Keeping these women in mind, Boss wanted to tie in a breast cancer charity event to celebrate the feed, seed and fertilizer store’s 10-year anniversary. Since October is breast cancer awareness month, she knew it would be an ideal time to host a horse trail event to raise the funds.
When Boss first introduced the idea, it caught the attention of Purina Mills, who decided to take it a step further by holding a national charity fundraiser for breast cancer. For the month of October, the company started Pink50, coloring their bags pink and donating the proceeds to national breast cancer research organizations. In addition, a charity event would be held in all 50 states. Each concept store around the nation had the choice to donate to a national or local organization.
By choosing Emory Healthcare’s Winship Cancer Center, all of Boss Brothers’ contributions stay within Georgia.
“Our customers mean the world to us,” said Boss. “We wanted to make sure we were giving back to them and our community.”
Last year’s event boasted 98 riders and raised over $13,000. This year, the event has already reached 98 riders; Boss expects about 150 participants and hopes to double the amount of money raised. Boss has also noticed the event spreading more by word-of-mouth, leading to a jump in the number of sponsors and donations.
The upcoming fundraiser, to be held Oct. 1 at Turnberry Bleu Farm in Monroe has added some new attractions for its participants: a scavenger hunt, an Honor-and-Memory wall for the riders, a Survivor Strut that will commemorate breast cancer survivors and a Paint Your Pony Pink contest. The event will also host a silent auction, along with goodie bags and door prizes.
This event isn’t the only fundraising activity the country store is organizing. A portion of customers’ in-store donations to breast cancer research or Be the Boss of You Ride will be used to create ornamental doves with pink ribbons tied around them, which will be sent to families who have lost a loved one. The store is also partnering with Walton Regional Medical Center to raise money for 10 mammograms through raffle ticket sales. Raffle winners can win from a variety of prizes, including a dozen pink roses, a manicure and pedicure or a hair styling.
“If I am fortunate enough to have not faced something like this, then the least I can do is to help somebody,” Boss said. “Even if it means to help them get through it or to raise money so another woman won’t have to face this.”