CINDY BUTLER FOCKE
Lynnhaven - Last year, Arizona firefighter Dave Graybill traveled across the country in a pink fire truck to rally support for breast cancer survivors and research.
When Capt. April Elmore of the Virginia Beach Fire Department's training center heard he was bypassing Virginia, she was determined to change his mind.
"I called him and asked him, 'Why aren't you coming here?'\"
She convinced him to veer slightly off course and pull the Pink Ribbon Tour into Pembroke Mall. Elmore said the last-minute detour netted a huge crowd and garnered more money for Graybill's tour than any of the other stops.
This Tuesday, thanks to Elmore, Mount Trashmore will welcome Graybill and his pink entourage. Funded by donations and the sale of T-shirts, this year's seven-week road trip was re-named the Pink Heals Tour, to raise awareness for all types of cancer.
"He's taking a more holistic approach and wants to speak to women everywhere," Elmore said.
The pink fire truck, pulling a 10-foot-tall stainless steel ribbon-of-hope statue on a pink trailer, will visit for a day-long tribute to those who battle cancer and those who work hard to make their loved ones' lives better.
Beginning at 11 a.m., the community is invited to come out, sign the truck and enjoy an array of cancer-awareness activities, as well as lots of entertainment, including The Original Rhondels at 5 p.m.
Elmore said Graybill, 46, has become one of her closest friends. "Dave was never touched by breast cancer and he felt so blessed," said the 10-year breast cancer survivor.
Elmore, who was diagnosed at 37, stressed the importance of breast self-exams and mammograms. "I really honestly believe that the only way, right now, we can kick this thing is by early detection. That self breast exam can save your life. It did for me," she said.
According to the American Cancer Society's guidelines for early detection of breast cancer, yearly mammograms are recommended for women in good health, beginning at age 40. Helpful information for all ages and risk categories will be available at the event, she said.
Sentara's mobile mammography unit will offer mammograms for those who call ahead to register: 1-800-SENTARA (736-8272). The ACS will offer bone density tests and provide valuable information on such topics as skin cancer prevention.
Wayne Sandlin said his newly formed nonprofit group Vigilant Watch, whose mission is to assist emergency services personnel in need, is whole-heartedly behind the event, hosted by the Virginia Beach Fire Department. "Their support for this event sets an excellent example for the community," said the retired Beach firefighter and cancer survivor.
Graybill's Care Enough to Wear Pink campaign encourages firefighters, police officers and local officials around the world to wear pink Oct. 25, 26, and 27.
"Pink can't be a reminder of the disease. It needs to represent for all men to let every woman know we stand by her side," Graybill said.
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October 4, 2009