ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Nearly 2,000 gathered at the Taylor County Coliseum Tuesday for the 19th Annual Bunco for Breast Cancer Tournament fundraiser. The theme, “Let’s get Animated,” encouraged attendees to dress up as their favorite cartoon character as they raised funds and awareness for breast cancer prevention.

“It’s kinda crazy, it’s kinda goofy, but it’s for a great cause… If we catch it, we can beat it, and so that’s what we’re really passionate about here,” said event MC and Hendrick Health Vice President, Brad Benham.

20 years ago, a small group of nurses with a penchant for bunco decided to turn their hobby into an opportunity. To ease the access to mammograms in the Big Country, the group began raising funds. That resource, now known as the Hendrick Hope Fund, provides access to mammograms to everyone regardless of ability to pay. The hope fund aims to help residents catch the signs of breast cancer early when it is treatable.

“I lost my grandmother to breast cancer when I was four years old,” Benham shared.

Bunco participant, Kellie Flores told KTAB/KRBC, “It’s just one of those things that you can never prepare for it, but once it happens you just look at the world completely different.”

Flores lost her mother to the disease in 2004, and this is her first bunco fundraising event. She and her group came in support of another fighter in their neighborhood going through that same battle today.

“You can just see women of all ages supporting each other,” beamed Flores.

Whether as a survivor, or in memory of a love one lost, Bunco for Breast Cancer provides funds and a community of support to all affected by breast cancer.

“When a patient, here at an event like this tonight, walks up to you and smiles and gives you a hug, it makes it all worth it,” Hendrick plastic surgeon, Dr. Kevin Bridge added.

With little overhead, the event was able to raise $110,000 dollars through entry fees and donation. That count was the most recent as of Tuesday night. That’s $10,000 more than what was raised in 2022. Donations remain open to anyone who would like to give.