Sandy Dunn

Cowboy Up to feature two-time cancer survivor Sandy Dunn

July 22, 2019

Expect to laugh, cry and feel uplifted at this year’s Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer

Nothing can stop Sandy Dunn from keeping the brightest outlook on life. With every hurdle, she says “cowgirl up” and moves forward with her head held high.

“I believe that positive energy heals you,” Dunn said.

She maintained this mentality while fighting breast cancer – twice! Both in 2008 and 2010, Dunn put all her trust and faith in her dedicated caregivers at Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center.

Dunn continued to live her life to the fullest so she wouldn’t dwell on the chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

“I spent lots of time with friends and family laughing. I danced a lot, and the day before my hair fell out, I went and bought myself a new car,” she said.

Dunn is in remission today and feels good. But earlier this year, Dunn experienced another blow. Her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks after her 34th birthday.

“It’s the exact same cancer that I’ve had, so it’s an aggressive cancer,” Dunn said. “It was very shocking news.”

Yet, Dunn is relieved that her daughter is seeing the same exceptional support team at Roger Maris, led by Sanford Oncologist Dr. Shelby Terstriep, who took care of her.

“My daughter knows the passion I have for Roger Maris and she knows the feelings I have for people in that building,” Dunn said. “There’s a confidence in that they saved my life, they’re going to save her life.”

That role of mom is an important one for Dunn.

“I talk to her every day and I take her out to lunch,” she said. “I invite her to my place to sleep because, for some reason, she sleeps really well there.”

Her daughter insists Dunn should just stay healthy.

“She said, ‘You’ve already done the biggest thing you could have done for me. You’ve shown me I can beat this,’” Dunn said. “A lot of women are going through this and don’t have that in front of them. She said, ‘You beat cancer twice. Now I know I can beat it once.’”

Cowboy Up plans

This year, the 15th annual Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer is Aug. 16-18, and you’re invited to all the family-friendly activities.

The opening ceremony of the main event begins at 10 a.m. on Aug. 17, where Dunn will share her personal, inspiring story.

“I’m a little bit nervous,” Dunn said, adding this would be her largest public speaking event.

She will explain how a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean the end of life.

“When someone has cancer, there’s a perception people have that can be very diminishing. I want to change that,” Dunn said. “People with cancer are still the same person. They might have some limitations, but if they can move past those limits, move past them.”

Check out the complete list of Cowboy Up events benefiting Roger Maris Cancer Center.

15th annual Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer

  • When: Aug. 16-18
  • Where: McLeod, N.D.
  • How it works: The weekend is filled with family-friendly activities to support patients at the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center. The Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer follows the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on Aug. 17. See the full schedule below.
  • Give now: You can make a gift at any time: Visit

Friday, Aug. 16

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Register for Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Silent auction

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Kids For Cowboy Up Bake Sale

11 a.m. – Trail Ride

Noon to 8 p.m. – Hamburger stand

2 p.m. – KFGO talk show host Joel Heitkamp of News & Views will broadcast live from McLeod

5 p.m. – Extreme Race at the rodeo grounds

9 p.m. – Street dance with Silverado

Saturday, Aug. 17

7 to 9 a.m. – Register for Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer

7 a.m. – Coffee and donuts provided by AK Ranch YH Manske Family available for a free-will offering

7 a.m. – Kids For Cowboy Up Bake Sale

8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Silent auction (pick up items before 10 p.m.)

8 a.m. – Curt Holmland Memorial Softball Tournament starts

10 a.m. – Opening ceremony followed by Kids For Cowboy Up Parade, cancer survivor recognition and Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. – Hamburger stand

4:30-7:30 p.m. – Steak supper with potato, beans, cucumber salad and ice cream for a free-will offering

6 p.m. – Live auction

8:45 p.m. – Balloon release

9 p.m. – Street dance featuring Gun Shy

10 p.m. – Candle ceremony

Sunday, Aug. 18

8-11 a.m. – Cowboy Breakfast at the school

For more information about all these events, visit

We look forward to seeing you there!