Bullhead City, AZ Local 3647 and fire department staff present a check to the We Care Cancer Support, a local organization that assists cancer patients. Fire fighters are wearing pink duty shirts for the entire month of October and selling pink shirts with proceeds going to the local charity. Click here to see what other IAFF affiliates are doing to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Fire Fighters Go Pink
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Because many fire fighters — or their families — have been affected by cancer, it’s been an important issue for IAFF members who raise awareness and dollars in support of women in their fight against breast and other cancers. Over the last several years, growing numbers of IAFF affiliates across North America have traded blue duty shirts for pink T-shirts in October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In communities in the United States and Canada, fire fighters have started a movement to wear and sell pink T-shirts as part of campaigns to raise money for all women in their fight against cancer. Inspired by the success of these campaigns, delegates at the IAFF 2010 Convention passed a resolution in support of breast cancer awareness and encouraging affiliates to
develop campaigns to benefit local and national organizations dedicated to finding a cure for cancer.

This October, to assist IAFF affiliates participating in breast cancer awareness campaigns, the IAFF provided tools, resources and activities for affiliates to use in their own communities. As part of these efforts, the IAFF introduced a “Passionately Pink for the Cure” campaign in conjunction with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to benefit Susan G. Komen and the IAFF Charitable Foundation.

The IAFF also partnered with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) to coordinate breast cancer fundraising and awareness efforts in Canada.

IAFF affiliates are inspired to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month for many reasons, and often it is because they have been personally affected by the disease.

Springdale, OH Local 4027 participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the first time this October when Local 4027 member Joe Lehn’s wife, Gina, survived two rounds of cancer before she was diagnosed for a third time with stage four cancer. Unfortunately, she lost her final battle with cancer just before Thanksgiving. But she did live to see the members of Local 4027 rally in support of her and her family.

Rocky View County, AB Local 4794 members — several of whom have lost family members and friends to cancer — raised more than $15,000 in a Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Run for the Cure event in October. The local’s effort was spearheaded by Treasurer Bill Cormack, who lost his mother-in-law, grandmother and aunt to breast cancer. And among the local’s participants were father and son fire fighters John and Tim Ross, who lost their wife and mother, Dolores Ross, to the disease in August. Other Canadian IAFF affiliates also participated in the Run for the Cure, including Spruce Grove, AB local 3021. Numerous other Canadian locals are raising funds and awareness for breast cancer through other initiatives, such as pink fire trucks and T-shirts.

The men and women of Howard County, MD Local 2000 put the pink spotlight on Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink shirts, which were also for sale to the public.

Proceeds from this initiative support The Red Devils, a local 501 (c) (3) non-profit that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for breast cancer patients and families living with breast cancer in Maryland. Tanya Panizari, the wife of fire fighter Kevin Panizari and a mother of three who was also diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, was was referred to The Red Devils for financial help.

Through our family, friends, our faith and The Red Devils, we got through this and we’re very grateful,” says Tanya.

For some IAFF affiliates — like Alameda, CA Local 689 and Lodi, CA Local 1225, where the cities issued proclamations recognizing fire fighters for the their efforts in generating breast cancer awareness — campaigning in support of women with cancer provides a positive image for IAFF members at a time when fire fighters and other public employees are under attack and unfairly blamed for the nation’s fiscal crisis.

The coordinated effort by the more than 1,250 members of Jacksonville, FL Local 122 to wear pink uniform shirts was a great opportunity to remind the public — and elected leaders — that all money raised by Jacksonville’s fire fighters was staying local to help women fight cancer.

The two-week period in which Jacksonville fire fighters wore pink duty T-shirts also coincided with the last two weeks of the City of Jacksonville’s budget process. Jacksonville politicians were hard at work slashing and burning their way through another budget process. The City was embroiled in a bitter two-year feud with the Fraternal Order of Police over a 2 percent pay cut. The daily attacks on the FOP in the local media brought collateral damage to fire fighters. “Local 122 needed a shield to protect them from the political attacks where it was evident nothing was untouchable,” says IAFF 12th District Vice President Larry Osborne. “If politicians labeled fire fighters as greedy, the response would have been, ‘Which ones? The ones wearing Pink?’”

These are just a few examples of the far-reaching campaigns conducted by IAFF affiliates from coast to coast. Each of the hundreds of affiliates that participated has a personal connection to the disease or a unique motivation for participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Click here to see how other IAFF affiliates supported Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Frederick County Wins Best Pink T-Shirt Design
For the affiliates participating in pink T-shirt campaigns during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the IAFF held an online “Best Pink Campaign T-shirt Design Contest.” More than 75 affiliates submitted entries, and the winning T-shirt design came from Frederick County, MD Local 3666, with 2,216 votes.

In addition to bragging rights, Local 3666 wins a free registration to the 2012 Affiliate Leadership Training Summit in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, January 24-26. Frederick County Local 3666 was in close competition with neighboring Montgomery County, MD Local 1664, which was just a few votes shy of claiming the prize.

Passionately Pink for the Cure
This year, the IAFF announced a new "Passionately Pink for the Cure" program in conjunction with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The Passionately Pink for the Cure campaign provided tools and resources for IAFF affiliates to use in their own communities and events. All donations collected online in connection with the IAFF Passionately Pink campaign will be shared equally by the IAFF Charitable Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For more information, click here. To see the IAFF Passionately Pink campaign team, click here. Watch the video (right) of General President Harold Schaitberger and Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker announce the 2011 "Passionately Pink" breast cancer awareness campaign.

One hundred twenty-four IAFF affiliates participated in the Passionately Pink for the Cure program, raising nearly $40,000 for  Susan G. Komen and the IAFF Charitable Foundation.

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
The IAFF has teamed up with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) to help IAFF affiliates in Canada participate in breast cancer awareness events benefiting the CBCF, including the CIBC Run for the Cure and the CBCF Cook for the Cure. 

Get a Quote, Make a Difference
For every IAFF member who requested an insurance quote from Liberty Mutual, Liberty Mutual donated $5 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® to help support the fight against breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness Merchandise
The IAFF Online Store offers a number of breast cancer awareness-related items, including lapel pins, decals, T-shirts, bumper stickers and drawstring backpacks.

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