The Sprinkle Pink community fundraising energies total $27,967, this October, and Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital is matching that amount bringing the total deposit of $55,934 to the Aid to Mammography Fund.

The numbers were announced at a Sprinkle Pink meeting of the organizers and team leaders on Nov. 17.  

“Sprinkle Pink is a journey that we can all embrace,” said Amy James-Linton, marketing director at MDMH. “It was started by the passion of our sweet Cathy Miller, our lead mammographer, who has since retired. She truly, from her heart, took care of our community for breast health.”

Soroptimists had started a fund to pay for mammograms for community members but after a grant fell away, the community caring fund was $80,000 in the red and about to be shut down when Miller and Linton launched Sprinkle Pink to raise community awareness and raise money for the fund.

“It didn’t matter if you had money or not. It mattered if we cared for our community,” Linton said.

The Aid for Mammography Fund started seven years ago and the community caught the vision. It now has more than $300,000 due to community fundraising and Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital’s matching dollars. It has cared for 989 people in the Bitterroot Valley who, according to the American Cancer Association, one in eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer - 120 people.

“In seven years we caught breast cancer early, on a national average, 120 times,” Linton said. “If you don’t catch it early it is not a good outcome. You all made a difference.”

Linton thanked key leads for starting the Sprinkle Pink journey with her: Jean Schurman, Wendy Woods, Drew Hayward (director of the Imaging Department at MDMH), and Patrice Promack (a Soroptimist).

Promack praised Linton’s heart and efforts.

“She is nicknamed by me as ‘General Amy,’” Promack said. “As a former Army officer I know good leadership when I see it and Amy has supplied that in spades. She has helped us stay focused on the mission with her enthusiasm and attention to details.”

The category winners and their amounts: grand prize - Turn and Burn Barrel Race and organizer Jean Schurman totaled $8,303; top schools – Hamilton School District with their Spirit of Pink toss and pink out volley ball game brought in $1,229, Stevensville School District brought in $695; merchant first place – Farmer’s State Bank - $3,084, merchant second – Valley Drug and Variety - $2,065, and merchant third – Even’s Ace Hardware and David Evans - $2,036.

“It is important that we all continue our mission of encouraging health, encouraging preventative screenings, because our community is healthier for it,” Linton said. “We are truly a stronger, more vibrant community when we are healthy. You are all on a mission and that mission is to make sure people get their screenings.”

Linton thanked sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield, Quality Inn/Town Pump, Farmer’s State Bank and Cal Rourke – Tough Enough to Wear Pink bull riding - Darby Rodeo Association.

“We are blessed to live in such a wonderful community,” said David Evans, Sprinkle Pink’s first Mammo Man.

Schurman shared her journey of starting as a leader for Sprinkle Pink, starting the Barrel Racing, and then of using the Aid for Mammography Fund. She caught breast cancer early when she was diagnosed in August.

“The first year we had 100 barrel racers,” Schurman said. “It has grown and taken on a life of its own.”

Schurman credited Stevensville High School barrel racer Kayla Schmiedeke, who had the race as her senior project, for making this year's event so successful.

“Kayla went over and above,” Schurman said. “The thing about this year was – yes I was bald, yes it was cold, and one day before my next treatment – but it was the overwhelming number of women, men, and families that came. It was an amazing day and to have the support of the committee, the community, and those who traveled – it was a beautiful thing.”

Schurman talked about her diagnosis and cancer journey.

“You don’t know what you’re getting into until you’re in it,” she said. “When you get the diagnosis you’re gob-smacked.”

She praised the MDMH staff for taking care of the details for her treatment and care.

MDMH Board member Linda Dodds praised the Sprinkle Pink workers and what they’ve done for the community.

“We’ve touched lives together,” Linton said. “This journey isn’t done alone - it is a community making a movement.”