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Friday, August 5, 2011

Third-annual Chicks n Chaps women-only rodeo clinic sells out

Third-annual Chicks n Chaps women-only rodeo clinic sells out

Thursday night was a change of pace for Brett Crump.

A professional bull rider, a four-time qualifier for the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo and a 10-time qualifier in the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals, Crump spends most nights trying to spend 8 seconds on a twisting and bucking 2,000-pound animal.

On Thursday, Crump got to kick back and pass on his rodeo wisdom to a group of about 200 women, all of whom were dressed in pink and eager to learn from a real cowboy.

"It's fun to socialize with the ladies," Crump said.

Lots of socializing, along with drinking of pink beers — and maybe a little flirting — went on at the Chicks n Chaps all-women rodeo clinic Thursday evening at the Montana State Fair.

"I'm married so I can't flirt," Crump said.

Instead, he got a front-row seat to watch his fellow bull-riders charm the ladies.

Chicks n Chaps is in its third year in Great Falls. The women-only rodeo clinic got its start in Missoula, and is now held in five cities across Montana.

The Great Falls event raises funds for the Circle of Hope Survivorship Program at Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute. Proceeds from the event help women going through breast cancer treatment purchase wigs and prosthetics, said Katie Murphy, cancer services coordinator at Sletten.

The clinic sold out well before it kicked off.

"We have turned away a lot of ladies in the past couple days," said Erin Townsend, a Chicks n Chaps committee member.

Last year, Chicks n Chaps raised $5,700, Murphy said. She expected this year's event to raise more than $10,000

The women at Chicks n Chaps rotated between stations Thursday, trying their hand at skills needed for calf roping, barrel racing and bull riding. Women also got to participate in another activity not included in most rodeos — groping, or, more specifically, self breast exams.

Jodi Dake, a two-year breast cancer survivor, showed the women how to conduct self breast exams.

Dake was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 31, thanks to a self exam.

"I knew what was normal and what was not," she said.

After two years of attending the Chicks n Chaps clinic, Cindy McLendon is nearly a pro at bull riding.

"It's a good adrenaline rush," McLendon said, after hopping off a model bull body that is attached to hinges and springs designed to simulate the movement of a real bull.

Kattie Swartz and about 10 of her friends attended the clinic as part of Swartz's bachelorette party.

"I'm a rodeo fan, not that I could do rodeo," Swartz said.

She said that in addition to being a fun time, the event was a chance to contribute to a worthy cause.

"I think it's a great way to support a good cause," she said.

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