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In the pink

Tractors have, at one time or another, been manufactured in practically every color of the rainbow. Except, maybe, for pink.

But even that is changing. Now there's a pink tractor that's becoming well known in parades around the state of Kansas.

The pink 1951 Farmall Super C belongs to Harold Denholm, a retired Tonganoxie, Kansas, mail carrier and farmer. Harold and his son, Gregg, restored the tractor and painted it pink in honor of Harold's wife, Aileen, who died in 2007 of breast cancer. Harold drives it in parades, complete with pink clothes, hat, and gloves (he's looking for shoes) to promote greater awareness.

Family History

"Our family has been hit hard by this disease," Harold says. "Aileen lost her mother, grandmother, and two aunts to breast cancer. I have three daughters and three granddaughters. Believe me, they are very alert to the hereditary aspect."

Getting the paint to the exact shade of pink that signifies the breast cancer awareness campaign was a little tricky. "You get pink by mixing red and white, and we kept trying to get it just right," he says. "A neighbor helped us, and we finally found the right combination and said, 'That's it!' "

This particular tractor has special significance to the Denholms. Harold's dad bought it brand-new in 1951, and it was a workhorse on the farm for several years. Then it was replaced by bigger and newer models. Still, the Super C kept running and finding uses. Finally, it got a belly mower and Aileen used it to mow grass. They stopped calling it the Super C. "It was Mom's Tractor, and she was in charge of sharpening the blades and knowing when the oil needed to be changed," Harold says. "She took care of this family treasure just like she took care of all the treasures in her life."

Help Find A Cure

Knowing the family history, Aileen was diligent about her annual mammograms and checkups. Still, when her breast cancer was discovered in 2006, it had spread to her bones, and she died just 15 months later after participating in a clinical trial and undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.

"She was very fortunate that she didn't have much pain until the very end. And then it went quickly," Harold says.

"When Aileen knew what she was battling, she said she'd do anything in the way of treatment that might help doctors learn something. She wanted to help put an end to breast cancer," Harold says.
"They will someday. It was especially important to her because of the risk faced by our daughters and granddaughters."

Harold accommodates parade requests within a reasonable hauling distance. On the front of the tractor, he hangs a basket filled with literature about Aileen, the tractor, and breast cancer awareness. "I never ask a woman how old she is or how much she weighs, but I ask if she's current on her mammograms. I haven't been slapped yet. This pink tractor is doing good," he says.

FFA is tickled pink

Harold Denholm isn't the only old tractor buff thinking pink these days. The FFA chapter in Bedford, Iowa, will soon be showing off a pink tractor – a restored 1951 John Deere B.

Adviser Gordon Kennedy says the chapter restores a tractor every few years as a learning exercise and as a community service project (they end up donating it). This school year, they took on the B.

In the early stages of the project, three students -- Tracey Davis, Danie Blake, and Shelby Welch -- came to Kennedy and said, "We should paint it pink!"

"Why pink?" he asked. When they told him it would support breast cancer awareness, he said, "It took about two seconds for me to buy in. And within five minutes, everyone else in our group was on board, too."

The project will be complete by the end of May, and the pink B will be given to a worthy group (still unknown) to promote cancer awareness. Kennedy thinks whoever gets the tractor will probably auction it as a fund-raiser. He hopes it will eventually end up in the hands of a collector who will use it in parades and tractor rides to promote the cause.

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