Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo campaign raises record amount for new ultrasound

Two women wearing white cowboy hats and pink shirts with
Sherry Unruh, Dr. John Knudtson, and Linda Moak sit in front of the existing ultrasound machine at EPH. The money raised by the 2024 Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo campaign will fund a new state-of-the-art machine. (Photo by Wendy Rigby/Estes Park Health)

Saturday, July 6, 2024, was a big night for Estes Park Health. The ten candidates for Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo raised a record-breaking amount of money. Altogether, these volunteers gathered more than $118,000 to fund a brand-new ultrasound machine for the hospital. This technology will – among other things – help with finding cancers and evaluating treatment.

The woman who raised the most money for the EPH Foundation – more than $20,000 — was Elena Nedobukh, a local business owner who first came to the United States from Russia in 2004 as an exchange student studying foreign languages. She fell in love with Colorado and decided to stay. She runs the Barking Lot in Estes Park where she offers doggie day care, boarding, and grooming.

A woman with light pink hair wearing a black jacket holds a bouquet of flowers and stands outdoors with other people in the background.

Elena Nedobukh was crowned the 2024 Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo on Saturday, July 6. (Photo by Wendy Rigby/Estes Park Health)

She felt compelled to get involved in the Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo campaign after witnessing the heartbreak of cancer.

“I had clients who boarded their dogs,” Nedobukh recalled. “First the man died of cancer and then his wife died of cancer. It was heartbreaking. Last year, my close friend Grace lost her father to cancer. It was horrible. This campaign was a very good opportunity to do something about it.”

Nedobukh’s family, friends, and clients all support her effort. She offered dog portraits and threw a dog walk party around Lake Estes. In the end, it all added up to a win. She was crowned Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo 2024 on July 6th.

“I was in complete shock,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting the win. Lots of people helped me and we were all part of this big thing. It was a team effort. I’m glad the hospital will be able to buy this new ultrasound machine.”

Estes Park Health Radiologist Dr. John Knudtson is over the moon about the success of the month-long fundraising campaign. He says the new ultrasound machine will make a big impact on patient care in the Estes Valley.

“I am excited beyond belief,” Dr. Knudtson exclaimed. “It’s just so amazing what these women have done. I can’t be more thrilled for them and their success in making their vision a reality, and probably even more importantly, the success that they’ve had bringing greater care, greater equipment, better everything for the hospital and the people in the Estes Valley.  I think the best thing it’s going to provide is to really improve on the type of ultrasound services that we already provide. It’s going to be a state-of-the-art machine. It’s going to have all the latest and best technology. It’s going to have the new ultrasound probes which will be able to get into all the different places where we need to find cancers, masses, and do the evaluations of the things that we need to find what the problem may be for any patient and whatever symptom they may be presenting with.”

The new machine is not a “one-trick pony,” according to Dr. Knudtson. It will enhance the ability to look for cancers all over the body, whether it be liver, pancreas, and gynecologic cancers like uterine, ovarian, and endometrial.

“My personal passion is looking for and finding breast cancer,” he added. “We’re going to have the best machine around to see and characterize masses and problems within the breast. Also, down the road, we’ll be able to offer ultrasound guided breast biopsy services. Ultrasound guided biopsies are relatively quick and relatively easy. You can get an answer quickly with a minimal amount of discomfort.”

Ultrasound is a workhorse in any Diagnostic Imaging Department. At EPH, technologists perform ultrasounds every day. Dr. Knudtson is hopeful the new machine will be installed by the end of the year.

The mother of the Rooftop Rodeo is Linda Moak whose granddaughter Haley was a priciness in the royalty program in 2016. The coordinator wanted a way to involve the families, and Linda became the first Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo.

“So, they decided to have a Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo at my suggestion because my good friend had said, ‘Why is it that all these cute young girls are the only ones with sashes and crowns. We need something for old ladies?’

In 2017, the competition became a fundraiser for local cancer care needs.

“Everybody doing a little bit adds up to a huge amount,” Moak said. “I never anticipated any of this. Prior to this competition, they put jars for donations in businesses around town. I think they might have made $1,200 max. The first year that we made $8,500, I was blown away. Well, look at us today. We’re six figures plus. I think people truly care about other people. It’s such a worthy cause. And they know what they’re donating to. We feel so blessed to be a part of it and feel blessed to be a part of this community.

The Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo campaign has raised close to a half million dollars since 2017. The organizers feared this year might not go as well because of the economy. However, the candidates were able to raise a record amount of money.

It takes a village to run a successful Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo campaign every year. The tireless volunteer behind the amazing 2024 fundraiser is Sherry Unruh, chairperson for the subcommittee of the Fund Development Committee for the Estes Park Health Foundation and a past Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo winner.

“So many of us have been affected by cancer,” Unruh stressed. “I personally am scared to death of the disease. I’ve watched friends whose daughters have had to deal with cancer and whose husbands are dealing with prostate cancer. It just seems like it touches so many of us. I believe that we can save a person’s life and if we can do that five times a year, one time a year, then we’re successful.”

She praised the creative fundraising efforts of the 2024 Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo candidates. Their events included garage sales, golf tournament, auctions, a bunco night, a karaoke night, and a music video Bingo.

“It was amazing some of the things these gals did,” Unruh noted. “They were far more creative than I ever thought about being. They were very generous with their time.”

Dr. Knudtson applauded the results of a true grassroots effort to acquire the latest imaging technology for Estes Park Health.

“It’s not lost on me that patients in the Estes Valley have a choice,” he stressed. “When you decide that you want to put your money where your mouth is and improve your health care right here, it means a lot. It means you want to have something in the community that you’re proud of, that you’re confident in. You can show up here and feel good about what we do here.”

Over the years, the Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and helped buy new infusion pumps, outfitting of a wound center for cancer patients, a new 3D mammography machine, a new MRI machine, upgrades to the infusion clinic, a new DEXA machine, and now a state-of-the-art ultrasound.

Estes Park Health and the Estes Park Health Foundation are eternally grateful. To listen to a podcast, go to