On Monday, September 19, red won’t be the only color fire trucks come in.
Firemen from the Garden City Fire Department Headquarters Company and volunteers from the Pink Heals Tour will park a pink fire truck 12-2:30 pm on Old Country Road in Mineola in front of the Mineola Courthouse and on 7th Street in Garden City from 3-5 pm. Firemen dressed in pink firefighting uniforms and yielding pink boots will be collecting donations from pedestrians and drivers to support cancer awareness. The Maurer Foundation will distributing educational material at the event. All proceeds go to the Foundation, who will use the funds collected to support the organization’s ongoing breast health and cancer prevention seminars offered to schools, corporations, and community groups.
The Tour is part of an annual nationwide campaign by the non-profit organization Guardians of the Ribbon, Inc. This year’s tour takes the group’s 6 pink fire trucks, it’s silver ribbon monument, and “Pink Army” of firefighters, police officers, and community leaders to 50 cities throughout the U.S. The Tour will spend one day on Long Island, its first ever since the organization began. Additional Pink Heals Tour fundraising events will be held simultaneously in Manhasset and Long Beach benefiting The Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer and Long Beach Polar Bears, who will be donating their portion of the proceeds to Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Metro New York. The day will be capped with a parade at Museum Row in Mitchell Field at 6 pm, featuring all 6 of the pink fire trucks as well as fire trucks from neighboring communities. A proclamation by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano will be presented to Guardians of the Ribbon founder Dave Graybill. Proceeds collected during the day at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center will benefit 1 in 9, The Nassau County Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer.
Founder Dave Graybill, former Major League Baseball player, retired Glendale Arizona firefighter and author explains the purpose of the Tour and the organization. “What a fire truck means to the average person in the community—hope, love, rescue—I figured if we painted that pink, dressed in pink [fireman uniforms] and drove across America, we’d inspire communities to get out and wear her color, fundraise, and then give the money to local charities. We wear pink to honor and love on you and then raise money for your fight against all cancer.” At each stop in their Tour, the Guardians urge citizens to “Care Enough to Wear Pink” on October 25, 26 and 27. Because the organization donates all tour proceeds to local charities like the Maurer Foundation, it supports itself solely through direct donations and t-shirt sales, which help pay for fuel and other expenses, as well as create awareness during their events. Their slogan is “Supporting Woman, Raising Awareness.”
For Garden City professional fireman and local organizer Jerry Cadigan, the arrival of the trucks on Long Island is personal. “”My sister Mary had breast cancer over 20 years ago and thought she was cancer free for 17 years. When it returned she battled it for another 3 years. I always wanted to do something in my sister’s memory and when I saw the pink fire trucks I thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Each truck is named after a specific woman like “Heather” and “Elaine” who have had profound effects on the Guardians; each woman’s story is shared in the truck’s journey across America. The trucks are covered in signatures and notes collected from survivors and advocates throughout the country. According to the Pink Heals Tour website, “Our pink does not stand for a disease, but stands for the most important people in our lives, our women. We wear pink because pink heals!”