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Pretty in pink; even firefighters

Pink fire truck helps fight cancer

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POSTED: April 30, 2010 12:18 p.m.
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Real men wear pink and so does their fire truck.
Fort Stewart firefighters have joined the Pink Heals Tour to help raise cancer awareness and funds for cancer research. Pink is the color associated with the fight against breast cancer.
These men and women, many wearing pink turnout gear, will take a healing message of love and hope on the road in a recently painted pink fire truck.
The truck has also been signed by people who want to remember loved ones lost to cancer or honor those who have survived the disease. Once the truck is covered with signatures it will be given a clear coat to protect its memorial graffiti for 20 years.
The Pink Heals fire truck begins its tour today in Ludowici. T-shirts will be for sale and donations accepted. The truck will stop in Hinesville Wednesday, May 5, at the Mills House and will be at the Liberty County Relay for Life next Friday.

Recommissioning truck


The pink truck, an out-of-commission 1984 fire truck, is owned by Liberty County Fire Services. Liberty County dedicated the truck to the “Guardians of the Ribbon” for their 2010 Pink Heals Tour. Fort Stewart firefighter Shane Shifflett helped found the Guardians, a Southeast Georgia Pink Heals chapter.
“We’re out there raising awareness and we’re wearing pink for the women,” he said.
The truck is named Carolyn in memory of Liberty County Commissioner Marion Stevens’ wife, who lost an on-again, off-again, 30-year battle with cancer on July 17.
Stevens said he was honored and “grateful” to local firefighters for naming the truck in memory of his wife.
“She was a fighter,” Stevens said. Carolyn Stevens helped establish Riceboro’s Relay for Life chapter, he said.
Shifflett approached Liberty County Fire Coordinator James Ashdown with the idea of acquiring a fire truck after participating in the national Pink Heals tour last year. Ashdown then went to Stevens who supported the truck dedication “100 percent.”

Personal reasons

“The (cause) means a lot to me,” Shifflett said. “I have family members with cancer and some are cancer survivors.”
The 38-year-old firefighter spent 224 hours of his annual leave to participate in the 2009 National Pink Heals Tour.
“The tour started in Phoenix, Ariz., but I jumped on board in Memphis, Tenn.,” he said.
Ashdown and Shifflett said it took no time at all for post firefighters and others to volunteer time and services to the tour. They said firefighters and volunteers from Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Pooler, Bryan and Liberty counties, Gum Branch, Southside Savannah and Thunderbolt have joined in fundraising.

Help from many

Fort Stewart Directorate of Logistics workers painted the truck. Paint was donated by Pink Heals Tour founder Dave Graybill, a Phoenix firefighter, Shifflett said. Hunter Army Airfield firefighter Garry Huyck placed Pink Heals decals on the truck.
Area cancer patients, some with little time left to lose, and their families were given early opportunities to sign the truck.
Shifflett said he and fellow firefighters drove the truck to Richmond Hill so Bryan County resident Lori Covington could sign. Covington, who is critically ill with cancer, was too sick to come to Garden City Sunday to sign the truck at Patrick’s Uniforms.
“So, we took the truck to her,” Shifflett said.
Jessica Benavides and her sons, Matthew, 14, and Michael Benavides, 7, and Phillip DuRousseau, Jr., 11, signed the truck at Fort Stewart Fire Station 1 Wednesday. Benavides’ mother-in-law, Master Sgt. (ret.) Anna M. Mallett, 63, of San Antonio, Texas, is battling stage-four breast cancer.
“She (Mallett) was a nurse for the Army,” Benavides said, choking with emotion. “She always took care of everyone else. Even though she is (now) too sick to care for others, she can contribute (in this way).”

Fight continues

Mallett was assigned to MEDCOM, C-Company at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, from 1973-1993. She was in the last graduating class of the WAC Corps in December 1973.
Benavides said her mother-in-law plans to do the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in San Antonio on May 8. Benavides’ husband, Sgt. 1st Class Joe R. Benavides, is deployed to the National Training Center and  will travel to his mother’s side when he returns from training.

Helping all victims

“Hopefully all of this (fundraising for cancer research) will help others not to have to suffer the loss of a loved one,” Benavides said. She said Mallett was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and went into remission last year. Unfortunately her mother-in-law’s cancer returned aggressively this year.
“It means so much for her (name) to be on the Fort Stewart truck,” Benavides said. “She was diagnosed here and cared for here so she has a major emotional tie to this post.”
For more information on the Pink Heals Tour, e-mail firefightershifflett@yahoo.com, visit www.pinkfiretrucks.org or go to facebook@Guardians-of-The-Ribbon-Southeast-Georgia-Chapter.
 

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