Not Our First Rodeo

2023 Northern Colorado Cattle Baron's Chairs, Clay and Raechel Drake Share Their Journey

Article by Desiree Gustafson

Photography by HJ Photography, David Grossman of Colorado Photography

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

​For more than three decades, the northern Colorado community has supported the mission and work of the American Cancer Society through The Cattle Baron’s Ball. An event hosted annually, the ball has raised over 10 million dollars to help fund lifesaving research right here in Colorado. The vision of the American Cancer Society is simple yet monumentous—to end cancer as we know it for everyone. Since 1946, it has invested more than five billion in cancer research to help advance treatments and improve the quality of life of cancer patients. 

A generational tradition for a considerable number of the families involved, the attendees become active in the event by serving on committees and boards that help organize and coordinate all the moving parts. Like most members in the AG community, being involved with or attending the event is something that they have always participated in, but for the Drake family, this specific event has evolved and become a part of a much bigger picture with a deeper meaning and purpose. 

“One step at a time” is a saying we have all heard applied to multiple situations throughout our lives, but the significance of these words varies greatly depending upon the individual. For some, it is about reaching goals, and for others, it's about pushing yourself physically or mentally. But for the Drake family, it has become a conscious choice they apply to their lives daily, a way of living differently. It's the decision to choose faith over fear and to see things through a lens of positivity. 

In 2015, Clay Drake was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, which altered his course and family’s life forever.

“Everything changes when you hear the word cancer. Almost like someone pulls the plug on the treadmill of your life and you go flying off. Life becomes a blur of not knowing and uncertainty,” shares Clay’s wife, Raechel. With having to face undergoing multiple treatments to combat the aggressiveness of his cancer, which would keep him in and out of the hospital for 6-month periods, Clay and Raechel’s outlook and way of thinking were challenged. They both recall specific moments when they realized that the prayers surrounding them were all that was holding them up and the only thing left to do was to give it to God. At that moment, when the doctors were at a loss, their faith stepped in, and Raechel declared a determination to fight. Through that declaration of strength, doctors got on board and decided to approach Clay’s treatments differently.

Throughout this journey and during his treatment, the Drake family realized cancer may have taken them off the treadmill of life, but it also grounded them and brought them closer to one another, closer to God and has shown them a light inside the darkness. Seeing the world through another lens, they have witnessed God’s presence in their life on numerous scales. It has brought people into their lives who have been a part of their story in ways they never knew. They are now able to help guide future cancer treatments and research by Clay having the honor to serve on boards for The American Cancer Society as a patient advocate, and they have seen how all the smaller things become moments that are part of a much larger picture.

“It more than saved my life; it changed me and it changed us. I think for the better as strange as that may seem. I wouldn’t think the way I think if it wasn’t for cancer. I wouldn’t be as grateful to God, I wouldn’t be as grateful to my kids, my wife, my friends, my community, I'd still be on the treadmill of life,” Clay says. He shows us that no matter what your fight is, you must embrace it. You must choose to embrace your current struggle, despite how big or small, and let go of the fear so that you don’t become paralyzed by it. It doesn’t matter what your fight is, choosing a positive attitude and faith is the only way to get through it, by far.  

At some point in his treatment, Clay learned that one of the drugs used to treat his cancer, Darzalex, was funded by The American Cancer Society in its initial trial and is now a mainstay in the treatment of that type of cancer. This particular drug is a game-changer for patients because it is not chemotherapy, it is immunotherapy. This means it does not kill everything but is targeted to focus on the elimination of just the bad or cancerous cells. 

This discovery brought everything full circle for the Drake Family, bringing to light their involvement in this specific event for so many years, being a part of a bigger story weaved into their lives on a deeper level. Understanding all too well what this donation offers, the power of it and how it changes lives on a far greater scale than most are aware of, the Drake’s have a passion and a motivation for their involvement in this event fueled by the backbone of their testament and the heart of their story. 

The theme of this year’s benefit, “Not Our First Rodeo,” is centered around the culmination of all the small synchronicities witnessed in their life because of this fight. It is more than just The Cattle Baron’s Ball for them, this is the depth of their story and the meaning of their journey here, 31 years later, as chairs of this event. It is because of all the people in this community that continue to contribute, the drugs he had access to because of the American Cancer Society, the doctors and nurses that cared for him, and the facilities he was at that altered the course of his life. It is all the connections we too often don’t understand until they are brought full circle, that are directly a part of our story and our lives. 

“That’s how the world is, and sometimes we touch other people’s pictures and sometimes we don’t, but we are all part of the big picture oddly enough," Clay says. "I think that’s how I look at the way God works too, is that he sees that big picture and we don’t see that big picture, we are just part of it and that detail he sees is too much for us to comprehend but in the end, the image it all creates is really what is beautiful.” 

That bigger picture and this year’s Cattle Baron’s Ball are a nod to a greater purpose and choosing faith over fear, no matter what obstacles you face on your journey. 

The American Cancer Society is working to finish the fight against every cancer in every community. Your donations help to do the most for people with cancer today and work tirelessly to find cures to end the disease tomorrow. Your donation helps move everyone one step closer to a world free from the pain and suffering of cancer. 

This year's event will be held on September 23rd.

Please visit to donate, purchase tickets to this special fundraising event, or bid on silent auction items!

“It more than saved my life; (cancer) changed me and it changed us. I think for the better as strange as that may seem... I wouldn’t be as grateful to God, I wouldn’t be as grateful to my kids, my wife, my friends, my community, I'd still be on the treadmill of life."

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