When it comes to pink pumpkins, the hotter the weather, the better.
That’s what Holcomb High School senior Maggie Roth said regarding the pink pumpkins she has been growing since she was a freshman for breast cancer research and awareness.
“These are more like the ones we grew the first year, and last year they were a little more like orangey, salmony. But these ones are like a really light pink, which is what we saw the first year I planted it,” Roth said, pointing to some of the many pinkish-colored pumpkins she is selling this year.
Her father, Dwayne Roth, had been growing pumpkins for almost 30 years, so the concept wasn’t foreign to Maggie.
Roth was required in her freshman year to come up with a project for the Future Farmers of America’s supervised agricultural experience (SAE) and has been growing the pumpkins on her father’s land and selling them ever since, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to breast cancer research.
“We decided it would be a good cause to work for just because it affects so many people,” Roth said, adding that research indicates one in every eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. “And it just doesn’t affect them, it affects their family members, friends, etc.”
Roth’s FFA adviser, Marcy VenJohn, said because Roth is in the entrepreneur division of FFA, she operates the project as if it were her own business.
“She raises the money, then donates it back to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation,” VenJohn said.
According to its website, The foundation was formed in 2012 to help fight breast cancer. Pumpkin growers from across the country grow the specially colored pumpkins, sell them and give a percentage of the proceeds to the foundation.
The foundation then distributes the money to reputable research organizations that spend the highest percentage of dollars on actual research, according to the website.
The pumpkins get their pinkish hue due to the type of seeds, called porcelain doll seeds.
Roth said they typically plant about 5,000 of the seeds each year on about three acres of her dad’s land.
Once they are ready, Roth and her family pick the pumpkins, and with the help of friends and teachers, begin selling them for $10 each.
VenJohn said that since beginning the project, Roth has raised more than $30,000 for breast cancer research.
Roth’s was the first FFA chapter to participate in the pink pumpkin campaign, and as part of her SAE project, she was required to get other FFA chapters involved in the campaign.
And that might be where her greatest contribution lies, because since 2013, she has enlisted 86 FFA chapters nationwide.
Because she’s a senior this year and plans to attend Kansas State University next fall, Roth won’t be in charge of the pink pumpkins next year. But her younger sister, Grace, will be a freshman next year, and Roth expects she will continue in her big sister’s footsteps.
Roth will sell pumpkins from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Wharton’s For Every Bloomin’ Thing, 906 N. 10th St., and then from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 6 at Holcomb High School’s Dig Pink night, when the Holcomb volleyball team wears pink and clubs raise money for breast cancer.
Otherwise, to buy pumpkins, people can contact Roth or VenJohn at the school’s main phone number, (620) 277-2063, by emailing Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the high school’s FFA Facebook page or tweeting @holcomb_ffa.