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Tractor pulls are nothing new to Tim Hornback, but last fall was the first time the Elizabethtown man pulled a weighty subject into the limelight in such a manner.
Hornback organized the Burger King Breast Cancer Awareness Truck and Tractor Pull, an event to raise awareness of and money for breast cancer. When all was said and done, the truck and tractor pull drew more than 2,300 people over two nights and raised $13,674.25 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The event, Hornback said, was the idea of one of his daughters, and he emphasized he was not the only one who worked to make it happen.
“It took a year to get it all together,”Hornback said. “All my family pulled together.”
The network of help, he said, extended to friends, volunteers and his place of employment, which was flexible.
Already, plans for the 2013 Breast Cancer Awareness Truck and Tractor Pull, to be held Oct. 11-12, are in full swing.
The 58-year-old fleet manager at Nall’s Specialized Hauling in Elizabethtown is personally invested in the cause for the event. His wife, Carolyn, was diagnosed with breast cancer about 13 years ago and continues to battle the disease. After a mastectomy, Carolyn underwent chemo treatments.
Eventually the cancer metastasized. More chemo followed as did radiation to treat cancer in Carolyn’s brain.
Carolyn still is receiving chemo treatments every three weeks in Louisville.
“I’ve been with her through every chemo treatment she’s had in the last three years,”Hornback said.
At home, Hornback said, he does what he can — the laundry or housework — to help. Twice a week, when Carolyn babysits their grandson who will be 2 in March, Hornback takes long lunches to go home and give her breaks.
Before Carolyn was diagnosed, Hornback did not know much about breast cancer or its treatment.
“You learn quick,”he said.
Hornback wants others to learn about breast cancer, too. He wants men to know they can get breast cancer, and he wants to encourage women to get regular check-ups and mammograms.
Cancer awareness, in general, is important to Hornback. His mother had pancreatic cancer, his father had lung cancer, and his brother has B-cell lymphoma.
Raising awareness of, and money for, breast cancer didn’t start with last year’s event for Hornback, though.
In 2009 he participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day cycling event. When he first made the decision to ride he didn’t even have a bicycle. The152-mile ride from Louisville to Lexington and back required each participant to meet a $2,500 fundraising goal just to participate.
“I got up to 25 (hundred) and the money kept coming,”Hornback said.
Eventually he raised $7,630, placing him among the top 10 fundraisers that year.
When planning last year’s truck and tractor pull, Hornback said he knew it would be successful but did not imagine the extent. While he plays down his contribution to making it happen, at least one person has a slightly different perspective.
“Yes, several of us helped prepare for the event, and we worked numerous hours,”Connie Heath, his sister, said. “We didn’t do a fourth of what Tim did.”
Breast cancer survivors got VIP parking, recognition and pink carnations at the event, she said. Afterward, many people affected by cancer hugged organizers to thank them.
“It was such a wonderful feeling, and Tim, with all his hard work, made this feeling possible for so many people,”Heath said.
Hornback has been participating in tractor pulls for about the past four years. He also had participated back in the ‘70s but took a hiatus. It was in 1975, while he and Carolyn were watching “The Towering Inferno”at the State Theater that she came up with the name for the tractor he used.
It was dubbed Red Inferno. He currently pulls with Red Inferno II.
A pink ribbon adorns the tractor.
While it represents breast cancer awareness, it also seems to display Hornback’s own evolution to awareness, one sparked by an ongoing battle fought by Carolyn, who he described as a strong woman.
In more ways than one, Hornback is pulling for her.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or email@example.com.
PULLING IN A FEW FACTS ABOUT TIM HORNBACK:
City of birth: Elizabethtown
City of residence: Elizabethtown
Favorite music: Country
Favorite movie: “The Towering Inferno”
Favorite author: John Grisham
Favorite TV shows: “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” and “The Big Bang Theory”
Hobbies: Pulling tractors. He ranked 5th in points in the Battle of the Bluegrass for 2011, 3rd for 2012 and he plans to rank 1st in 2013.