INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The so-called “Fire Girls” care to wear pink – and they want you to care, too.
Indian River County Fire Rescue has joined with the International Association of Fire Fighters to fight breast cancer with its campaign “We Care to Wear Pink.”
Firefighters, fire medics and their significant others are selling pink T-shirts and bracelets to raise funds for the American Cancer Society to support breast cancer research and awareness.
Indian River Fire Medic Donna Garolfalo, Station 11, has had two friends lose their battles with breast cancer and three others who were victorious.
“Everyone has been touched in some way,” said Melinda Judson, wife of Indian River Fire Medic Jason Judson from Station 3.
“That’s what got the guys involved,” added Cynthia Chisholm, wife of Indian River Firefighter Keith Chisholm from Station 1.
Chisholm explained that the county’s male firefighters and fire medics could imagine what would happen if their wives, girlfriends, mothers, and sisters were diagnosed with the disease.
Those same women have gotten on board with Indian River Fire Rescue’s campaign.
“We’ve kind of adopted the wives (and significant others),” Garofalo said.
The “We Care to Wear Pink” campaign locally kicked off at the Indian River County Firefighters’ Fair, where Chisholm, Judson and Garofalo, among others, have been manning a booth selling the specially-designed pink T-shirts and bracelets.
“We’re looking forward to presenting a big, fat check” to the American Cancer Society, Garofalo said.
Their campaign runs now through October culminating with the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. They plan to have a “pink” team participated in the walk.
“We’re excited to be part of the national campaign,” Chisholm said.
The Fire Girls said the effort would not be possible if not for the support of two key local organizations – the Vero Beach Fire Fighters Association and the Vero Beach Volunteer Fire Department.
The association loaned the group money to buy the T-shirts they are selling and the volunteer department provided a $500 donation.
In just one week’s time, the Fire Girls have sold 550 shirts and are waiting on another shipment.
“We can’t keep up with demand,” Garofalo said.
They have also gotten some help from the Pink Heals Campaign, another national breast cancer awareness effort. Formed in Arizona by a firefighter whose wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, a fleet of pink firetrucks carrying firefighters dressed from head-to-toe in pink uniform tours the country drawing attention to the cause.
One of the pink helmets from the group has been loaned to the Indian River Fire Girls to also help bring attention.
Garofalo said they hope to have the Pink Heals tour make a stop in Indian River County.
“It’s a great feeling,” she said of being able to help the community.
Anyone wanting more information about the Fire Girls or where to buy a T-shirt or bracelet can email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.