Local Heroes: Agriculture Business Encourages Those Facing Breast Cancer To ‘Stay Strong’

This story is part of a series highlighting the heroes behind the work of Komen Great Plains—individuals who turn their fight from awareness to action. These heroes have committed to fundraising to show they are ready to fight back against breast cancer on all fronts – advocating for patients’ rights, funding life-saving research, extending community health outreach, and enhancing patient care.

A small seed planted in the ground nurtured with sunshine and rain can lead to a good crop, helping local farmers and the economy stay strong.  But what does a soybean seed have to do with breast cancer awareness?

For Wilbur Ellis employees in Chester, South Dakota, one small seed parallels the strength and fortitude of someone facing breast cancer. 

For the fifth year in a row, Wilbur Ellis employees will offer its ‘Start Strong, Stay Strong’ campaign in which the company donates a percentage of sales from pink treated soybean seed to help those facing breast cancer. 

Initially, Wilbur Ellis staff wanted to donate $.10 per unit of seed its customers purchased.  This soon grew to $.30 per unit as local suppliers wanted to match this donation. Since starting the program in 2015, Wilbur Ellis has raised nearly $40,000!

Each year, Wilbur Ellis selects various nonprofits to benefit from the annual fundraiser, including Susan G. Komen Great Plains that received $7,500 in 2018.  These funds have been instrumental in funding local community breast health education, free or low-cost mammograms and tests for vulnerable individuals, and support for those diagnosed with breast cancer in South Dakota.

Photo: Wilbur Ellis employees present a check to Linda Eidem from Susan G. Komen Great Plains (on right) at an event in Chester, S.D. in 2018