A California town’s Relay for Life event gets a new mascot.
By Amy Bickers | Photos By Amber Schneider
In 1963, Harry Schneider bought a brand new Massey Ferguson® 35 for his work on a California vineyard. Five decades later, his descendants are still in the grape-growing business, but his tractor was sitting on a ranch, its workdays long over. Then Amber Schneider had an idea for a way to get her late great-grandfather’s tractor running for a good cause.
“Two friends and I help out trying to do creative fundraisers for the American Cancer Society. One time we painted a barn pink and let people [make donations to] shoot paintballs at it. We like anything country-themed,” Schneider says of her efforts in and around Kerman, Calif. “I was looking in my backyard and we had this tractor, and we have a friend who’s a painter. I said, ‘We can make it a mascot.’”
Soon to be renamed Shirley A. Cure, the tractor was reborn for a starring role at the 2013 Relay for Life of Kerman event in April. Local businesses donated time and effort to get the tractor running again. Glenn Rudolph’s Auto Body did the custom paint job in purple, the universal color for cancer survivors and Paint the Town Purple events, which are often held in connection with Relay for Life.
“This is a small country community, and cancer has hit this town super hard. The entire town comes together for this event,” Schneider says.
When the event began in Kerman in 2011, the first year’s goal was $24,000. The town raised $60,000. This year, the event raised more than $85,000. At the event, cancer survivors signed the purple Massey Ferguson tractor. They also came up with the mascot’s new name. “Because surely there will be a cure,” Schneider says.