|Pink Heals Tour
Photo © Pam Stephan
It was a gray, drizzly day, brightened here and there by a flutter of pink t-shirts and pink ribbons. Standing outside, scanning the road were women, babies, men, and at least one small dog. Despite the light rain, they remained outside, poised and vigilant. Just under the porch of their convention center stood tables staffed by volunteers, carefully arranging piles of literature, cards, pins, mugs, and more of those t-shirts. From the freeway, we heard the wail of a fire engine's siren and the clouds over our gathering parted. The pink fire trucks were on their way!
Scenes like this were repeated across the country as the Pink Heals Tour traveled to cities to spread the message of the pink-clad fire fighters. "We save lives - that's who we are. The rule is: women and children first," Dave Graybill, firefighter and founder of Guardians of the Pink Ribbon, addressed the crowd of supporters and survivors. Behind Graybill stood two undeniably pink fire trucks, covered with signatures of people who had been affected by cancer. Each truck was named after a survivor, and was driven by volunteers from local fire units, wearing very pink fire suits.
When the pink fire trucks roll into town, they don't plan on rolling out with your local funds from the event. Money that is raised at a Pink Heals rally stays in your community, and is used to provide services and support for local patients and cancer agencies. The Guardians of the Pink Ribbon serve to raise awareness and focus attention on the issue of cancer and how it impacts families. Once a crowd is gathered, local fire houses can sell t-shirts while support groups, Komen chapters, and agencies like Cleaning For A Reason offer information and seek to connect with survivors and supporters.
Although Dave Graybill often speaks at these rallies, the focus is kept on the hosting community. Fire fighters, EMS personnel, police, and town government officials also attend and speak about their experiences with cancer and support. Survivors and patients currently in treatment also attend, some speaking about their fight. Fire, like cancer, can happen to anyone - without much warning and often with life-changing consequences. As supporters and survivors meet at these events, they learn more about the fight we are all in, and see the impact of cancer in our own communities. A Pink Heals Tour is one good way to get attention focused on the disease and the need for effective prevention and treatment.