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Archers take aim against breast cancer in weekend tournament in Cullman

Cameron Mitchell helped put the “bull’s-eye” on the back of breast cancer.

This weekend on June 12-13, more than 150 archers – experienced and amateurs – will compete in the Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer tournament, which is Mitchell’s brainchild.

The mission is personal for many archers who will take part in the event at Cullman Community Archery Park, co-hosted by members of the Heritage Archery Club. Indeed, some patients find release by pulling back a bow to “attack” their breast cancer with arrows. Some find a soothing balm in sharing stories about a loved one’s health battle with those who can relate.

“Getting volunteers for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama and Bow Hunters of Alabama has created a powerful team for raising money for research,” said Mitchell, a longtime bow hunter who noted that, after nine years, the tournament is a “well-oiled machine, thanks to all of the incredible volunteers.”

On Saturday and Sunday, competitors will begin meeting at the registration desk at 7 a.m. Participants bring their own equipment. Moving around a course with 3D animal targets, it takes about 2 hours to shoot the course. The last card for scoring goes out at 2 p.m. The event has drawn more than 200 spectators.

The cost to play is $25 or adults and $15 for youths. Attendees can bid for bows donated by Nichols Outfitters in Pelham, which will be auctioned by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama (BCRFA).

The event aims to save lives in Alabama and beyond

The event is all in good sport. In the past nine years, Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer has helped the BCRFA donate more than $190,000 toward research in the Yellowhammer state. The event has attracted up to 250 archers. Most importantly, treatments funded by the BCRFA help save the lives of breast cancer patients in Alabama and beyond.

“It’s a great event and it’s family friendly,” said Beth Bradner Davis, executive director of the BCRFA since 2014. “The funds we raise stay in Alabama. This is our 25th anniversary, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama has invested $10.8 million in research.”

Mitchell, who works for an international hunting and conservation organization, put the deadly disease in his sights about 11 years ago.

“My boss a few years ago said one of his biggest pet peeves was people who come up with great ideas but don’t have enough lead in the pencil to follow through,” Mitchell said. “I came up with the idea, and everybody with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, along with the Bow Hunters of Alabama, put together plans for the event.

“The first year, a representative from the BCRFA asked, ‘What’s your goal?’” Mitchell replied that he hoped to raise at least $20,000.

The woman told Mitchell, “I don’t want to burst your bubble, but we’ve never raised that amount for an inaugural event.” That year, the group raised $23,000 for BCRFA.

“It was wildly successful. Since the first year, it has remained one of the largest archery tournaments at the state level,” Mitchell said.

As people saw the event’s success, Mitchell said, it was easier to attract more vendors and sponsorships. The large tournaments drew more competitors, as well as spectators unfamiliar with the sport. Because Alabama’s bow-hunting season opens in October, the BCRFA holds its tournament in June.

About four years ago, Mitchell was forced to step away from organizing the tournaments because his wife was experiencing health issues.

“But I knew the tournament was in very capable hands and the success of the event would continue long into the future,” he said.

Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer supports research in Alabama 

While many attendees look forward to Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer year after year, Bradner Davis said the foundation sponsors several fundraising events. Each October, the BCRFA joins about 25 fire stations in supporting the Pink Ribbon Project. The BCRFA on Sept. 18 will make its foray into competitions at disc golf courses at Oliver Park in Shelby County and George W. Roy Recreational Park in Calera.

“Because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to hold some events this year,” Bradner Davis said. “I’m really excited for us to be able to expand with some events this summer that we weren’t able to do last year, such as our Pink Palace Casino Night on July 24th.”

Alabama’s Breast Cancer Research Tag continues to be a huge fundraiser in the fight against breast cancer. The BCRFA receives $41.25 for each specialty license plate, which is framed with a pink ribbon on a gray background. Alabama drivers can personalize their Breast Cancer Research Tag.

“We’re on target at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama to invest $1.1 million into research in 2021,” Bradner Davis said. “We’re so excited about the Bow-Up Against Breast Cancer tournament and helping patients in Alabama.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)