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Onlookers are encouraged to believe their eyes Saturday -- you are indeed seeing pink.

For the seventh year-in-a-row, a parade of over 750 Rancheros Visitadores from 37 states and six countries -- wearing pink -- will canvas downtown Solvang from Alisal Road to Old Mission Santa Inés, on horseback, carriage, or spectating, but all "Riding for the Cure" in support of breast cancer programs and research at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum.

The Rancheros have been returning to Santa Barbara County and the Santa Ynez Valley for 87 years. "My mother died from breast cancer, my wife is a survivor, and my sister was recently diagnosed. I have three daughters that I'm worried about," said 20-year Ranchero, Steve Beneto.

"Besides, this is an important cause. We've got to take care of our women," he said.

“Our goal is to raise $1 million by 2019. The response has been fantastic as we continue our support of the Cancer Center and their excellent care of breast cancer patients and their families on the Central Coast,” said Beneto.

Since 2012, in partnership with Wrangler Jeans and the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink Foundation," the Rancheros have raised $880,000 for the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara.

"We are thrilled to receive their generous contributions that go to benefit Ridley-Tree Center, ensuring patients don't have to travel far -- even to Santa Barbara -- to get the quality care they need," said Philanthropy Manager of the Cancer Foundation and liaison to the Rancheros, Stephanie Carlyle.

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After the ride, at the Mission, the Cancer Foundation will accept a check for $166,000 presented by Beneto on behalf of the 1,100 members of the Rancheros Visitadores.

This leaves the Rancheros $120,000 from reaching next year's $1 million net goal.

The fundraising organization and monetary goal come from the Visitadores each year, according to Carlyle.

"We're grateful we've been their charity of choice the last seven years," she said.

The funds raised benefit breast cancer programs at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center including: clinical research trials, wellness classes and support programs, hereditary cancer risk counseling and nurse navigation. These services are available to all breast cancer patients who reside in Santa Barbara County regardless of where they receive treatment or their ability to pay.

"Every year the Rancheros design a new pink shirt -- one year it was plaid -- we haven't seen this year's yet," said Carlyle.

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Lisa André is the Lifestyle Editor for the Santa Ynez Valley News. You can follow her on twitter @LAndreSYVNews

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