Pink Heals Tour makes Cape stop
Cape Coral was one of 46 cities in 74 days to witness pink fire trucks travel their streets to help raise awareness for cancer and honor women.
Cape Coral firefighter and event coordinator Brendan Fonock said the Pink Heals Tour is a campaign for women and children. The tour, which travels across county, helps in raising hope, awareness and money for each community it visits.
Fonock said he was absolutely “stoked” by the turnout of Sunday’s events. He said he was also excited about how many businesses donated gift certificates that were raffled off throughout the event.
“I am pleased,” he said adding that it is great to give back to the community for such a great cause. He said he felt it was a huge success after he witnessed the first woman sign the fire truck.
Since Fonock found out that the tour was going to make a stop in Cape Coral, the firefighters began selling pink T-shirts to help raise money for the cause. He said they sold more than 200 shirts and they sold out before Sunday’s event.
Fonock said they were going to also make a home visit to a Cape Coral woman later that afternoon who was diagnosed with cancer and had just began treatment.
The 2010 Pink Heals Tour kicked off in August in Colorado and will end in October in Nevada. The Guardians of the Ribbon Pink Heals Tour kicked off in September 2007 by a Phoenix, Ariz. firefighter.
Fonock said 50 percent of the donations will be given to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and the other 50 percent will be provided to two local women who are currently battling cancer.
A North Carolina volunteer firefighter, paramedic and instructor purchased a fire truck and painted it pink to start the North Carolina Chapter of the Pink Heals Tour. Jonathan Smith, who was the driver of the pink fire truck on Sunday at The Joint, said he heard about the tour from his cousin and decided to donate his time. He said he was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the many firefighters who support the cause.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Smith said. He said since women take care of everyone, he felt he needed to be that rock when a storm hits and protect the women in his life.
Smith said on Sept. 23 he started driving for the 2010 tour in Miami and will finish his length of the trip in Memphis, Tenn. on Oct. 3.
Smith said the Pink Heals Guardians of the Ribbon is a “labor of love” with the cause of raising awareness and “honoring women by wearing their color of pink.”
“Real men wear pink, not because we have to, but because we want to,” he said.
The pink fire trucks have traveled hundreds of miles carrying signatures of women, some men and children who have battled cancer throughout the cities.
Smith said they do not remove any of the names, but as Mother Nature takes its toll and the names begin to fade it allows space for women and children to sign the truck.
Smith said he has witnessed many touching things since he began driving the fire truck from city to city. One moment that stood out the most was when he witnessed a woman who was currently fighting cancer lean over the back of the fire truck in her wheelchair and write her hope, love and inspiration onto the truck. He said it was touching because she convinced her husband to finally take her to the event, although she was fighting cancer.
“It’s a great idea, mission and plan and the right thing to do,” he said.
Cape Coral resident Rae Riki Menna also attended the Pink Heals Tour event. Menna, who will turn 41 next week, is still going through chemotherapy for breast cancer. She said although she has good days and bad days, Sunday she was feeling good.
“This means the world to me,” she said about the event. She said the love and support of the community and fire department is wonderful.
Menna’s husband Tony has been with the Cape Coral fire department for 21 years. She said the group of firefighters have become part of her family because she met a lot of them when they first started dating. She said they arranged for him to have the day off on Sunday, so he could be there with her during the event, which meant a lot to her because Tony has made it to every appointment and treatment with her.
“I’m so grateful and happy that my family has been there for everything,” she said.
Menna’s words of wisdom to other women who are currently battling cancer is to stay positive and strong.
“Sometime it’s hard, but you have to keep going there is no other choice and if people offer to help, take it,” she said, adding that help and support “matters so much.”
The Pink Heals Tour made an appearance at Coconut Point Mall, Edison Mall and Hotel Indigo in the Fort Myers Downtown River District Sunday, along with personal visits to many women who are undergoing treatment.
Fonock said on Oct. 25, 26 and 27 the Cape Coral firefighters will wear pink duty shirts in honor of the National Cares Enough to Wear Pink days.
The Florida Professional Firefighters association made a resolution to help the Pink Heals Tour and get cities in Florida involved in the cause of helping raise awareness, which led to the local associations becoming involved in the cause.
This is the first time the Pink Heals Tour has made it to Florida.