Years ago, Mary Hale, founder and CEO of the Pink Arrow project, became sick and collapsed at an Archery Shooters Association World Archery event and needed to get home. Her archery friends didn't hesitate to step up and help.
When she was in stable condition after the collapse, her doctors checked to see what was wrong, and she was diagnosed with cancer.
"Two weeks later, I woke up with a doctor standing over me to tell me I had stage 4 cancer. My doctor was aware of my participation in archery and that I just won an event the month before. He told me that had I not been in such good physical shape, I would not have survived the surgery," she said.
Throughout her fight with cancer, hospital stays and doctor visits, the archery community that stood behind Hale stepped up again for her.
"Through the long hospital stays, there were flowers, calls, cards and visits. The well-wishers came from everywhere in every country. Somehow, everyone knew that my family was not able to visit - so they tried to make sure I did not notice.
"After a year-and-a-half of treatments ... that were pure hell ... the doctors were telling my family I was not going to make it, that they needed to
come. I had reached a point where I might survive; more likely, I was not," she said.
Hale believes her archery friends helped her survive. They helped her to shoots, which gave her purpose.
"They encouraged me to shoot again, even if it was at only one target. When I finally made it around all 20 targets, it was a team effort. The group I shot with pulled my arrows for me and made sure I had snacks to keep me going," she said.
She insists that "archery had made me strong. This is my life, archery is my life."
With that belief and faith on her side, the Pink Arrow Project was born.
"Like everyone else who has experienced cancer, directly or with a loved one, I have a story I really need to tell, so folks everywhere can understand why the Pink Arrow Project is important to everyone in archery, along with me," Hale said.
The organization's focus really is about "archers helping archers," but now the group is evolving and it's becoming all people helping each other.
"I don't ask people to put on an event. I don't ask them to put a sticker on their vehicle," she said. "I want them to come to me."
The Pink Arrow Project has been growing rapidly. Among its members are a fishing program and country and bluegrass singers - all supporting and helping to raise money to fight cancer.
"I am not excluding anyone or any organization," Hale said, adding she even has little school children making earrings and donating a portion of the sales to Pink Arrow.
She travels virtually everywhere and is on the road all the time from her small-town home in Tennessee.
"I do what is needed to be done, everywhere I go; I take calls any time of the day or night. I make myself available. I am approachable, and the archery community knows this and accepts me; they trust me and I trust them. I see this as so simple, but I guess it is not for most people. They don't understand how I can give so much with so little. God keeps providing in his way and time," Hale said.
When she visits an event, sometimes it's not about sitting down and fundraising. Sometimes it's about sitting down and talking to an individual, someone who may have had cancer, still have it or who has family that has been affected by it.
"People call me, and I don't even know them. They have heard of me and call me, and I talk to them. Thats what I do. That's my job," she said.