Pink Heals Tour tour to come to Fort Myers Wednesday
By MEGHAN McCOY
Downtown Fort Myers will be covered in pink Wednesday as the Pink Heals Tour makes a one-day stop in Lee County to help raise awareness for cancer and money for the community.
After a few months of trying to get the Pink Heals Tour to make a local stop , Brendan Fonock, vice president of Cape Coral Professional Fire Fighters, received a confirmation at the beginning of September that the pink fire trucks will appear in Lee County the morning of Oct. 5.
He said after he saw that they were not initially on the schedule he spotted that the closest stop was in Naples. After some conversations were had with the fire department in Naples, he was able to bring it to Fort Myers after they decided not to host the tour.
Last year, Fonock heard about the tour when he attended the state convention from a presentation they did about the cause. He said as soon as he heard the presentation he instantly knew he wanted to bring it to Lee County.
“I love the cause and I love the event,” Fonock said.
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 last year.
Last year was the first time the Pink Heals Tour made it to Florida.
Judy Hartwell, fiscal manager for the Fort Myers Fire Department said the Pink Heals Tour began in 2007 through the efforts of firefighter Dave Graybill from Glendale, AZ. She said the tour was created to honor women who are fighting breast cancer, and has since expanded to all forms of cancer.
“What I really like about it, is the money stays here locally and really helps families here,” Hartwell said about the tour.
The tour, which travels across county, helps in raising hope, awareness and money for each community it visits. Cancer survivors, friends and family are presented with the opportunity to sign the pink fire truck once it makes its stop in Lee County.
“It is time for men to show that women are the most important people in their lives,” Fonock said. “We are going to put on pink and show that we care, show them that they are the most important.”
The tour, which lasted for three months last year, has expanded to six months this year and included a stop in Canada.
“It is growing like wildfire,” Fonock said, adding that this year they are trying to cover the community in pink again.
Last year when the Pink Heals Tour stopped in Lee County, a fire truck visited Coconut Point, Edison Mall, downtown Fort Myers and The Joint at Cape Harbour.
Fonock said hosting the event in downtown Fort Myers this year was in everyone’s best interest because the energy and resources that are available.
“We all decided to have one event and let everybody come to one single area,” Hartwell said. “It is a terrific event … everyone has been affected by cancer one way or another.”
One of the pink fire trucks will be parked at Patio De Leon throughout the day on Oct. 5, to give people the opportunity to sign the truck and talk with the firefighters on the tour.
The other two fire trucks will make site visits throughout Lee County on Wednesday, which will include visiting some homes of those currently fighting cancer.
The Fort Myers High School Band will lead the procession of the three pink fire trucks into downtown Fort Myers at 6 p.m., which will kick off the block party.
“This year we thought we should do a block party around the tour and hopefully be able to have more people participate,” Suzy Lewis, special events chair for the River District Alliance, said.
She said they will have five stages set up for live music from local bands on Wednesday night until 10 p.m. The party will be held on 1st Street and Hendry Street.
The block party will feature more than 20 vendors, which will be mostly non-profit organizations.
Lewis said if the vendor is selling something during the block party they agreed they will donate 20 percent of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
A raffle will also be held during the block party, with more than 40 donations from local businesses.
Lewis said all the proceeds from the raffle will also go towards helping an individual, and their family, who is battling cancer right now, along with the American Cancer Society.
She said approximately 10 bars and restaurants have agreed to make a pink drink for the Pink Heals Tour, with the proceeds also being donated to the American Cancer Society.
Those participating will have a sign in their window indicating they have pink beverages.
“It should be a great party for a wonderful cause,” Lewis said.
Fonock said they are selling pink T-shirts again this year, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to charity.
The shirts are $15 for kids and $20 for adults and will be sold at the block party.
Those interested in purchasing the Pink Heals Tour T-shirt before Wednesday can call Fonock at 239-458-2424 ext. 3.
He said they have already donated a little more than $2,000 to the American Cancer Society this year from T-shirt sales from the Relay for Life event, among a few others.
“We all want to really have a good time and really celebrate women and support them,” Hartwell said about the block party. She said men should support their women by wearing pink that night.