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Power of pink

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Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:15 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Colleen Flaherty

Killeen Daily Herald

They care enough to wear pink.

That's what firefighters and police officers involved in the national Pink Heals cancer awareness tour wanted people at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center to know Thursday.

The Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors helped sponsor the rally, which featured four of the tour's famous pink fire trucks.

"We want to make this an annual event," said Executive Officer Michael DeHart, a cancer survivor.

The Pink Heals is a nonprofit group of volunteers, mainly firefighters, who drive pink fire trucks around the country for about two months each year, raising awareness about and helping raise funds to fight cancer.

Formed in 2007, the organization was originally a breast cancer awareness group. It has since broadened to cancer awareness.

In addition to their glossy pink lacquer, the official color of breast cancer awareness, the trucks are covered with tens of thousands of signatures of cancer patients and survivors.

Pink Heals is the brainchild of Arizona firefighter Dave Graybill.

Graybill's mother, who has never had cancer, inspired him to tour the country every year during his vacation, he said, spreading the message of love and "fighting the terrorist that is cancer."

"Every greatness goes through a woman," he said, sporting a pink T-shirt.

The organization sells T-shirts to support itself, but all other funds raised through events should stay local, he said.

"Last I checked, love is free," he sad.

The trucks, which had been in Georgetown a day earlier, met local fire trucks, police vehicles, and pink-clad motorcyclists at the Bell County Convention Center, and were escorted to Killeen about 4 p.m.

Breast cancer survivor Donna Saxton, 66, who recently finished her radiation therapy, watched the procession approach the Civic Center, sirens sounding and lights flashing.

"This is great," said Saxton, of Killeen. "I hope everybody notices these trucks."

Attitudes about cancer have changed since she was younger, she said.

"It's marvelous," she said, "especially the way they support the kids today."

The 2010 Pink Heals tour began near Denver, Colo., in August and ends in Las Vegas the end of the month. Volunteer truck drivers call themselves the "Guardians of the Ribbon."

They seek to enlist fire and police personnel across the country to wear pink shirts in a show of solidarity with women struggling with cancer for three days at the end of October each year. The movement is called the "Cares enough to wear pink" campaign.

Fort Hood firefighter Eric Cook, who drove a Fort Hood fire truck to the rally, said he's grown used to the color.

"It was a little odd at first," he said. "But I thought, 'If they can wear it, so can I.'"

The tour will be in San Marcos today.

For more information, go to pinkfiretrucks.org.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at colleenf@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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