Despite the torrential downpour on Labor Day afternoon, the Pink Heals National Tour went ahead with their scheduled parade in Oakland Beach.
Sirens blared as nearly 15 fire trucks, police cars and other vehicles made the slow slosh from Bishop Hendricken High School, down Oakland Beach Avenue to Oakland Beach, where the cars stayed parked for a few hours.
Pink Heals is a national organization of firefighters across the country dedicated to supporting women and children who are fighting or have fought cancer. Their pink fire trucks and rescue vehicles often make appearances at events for other non-profits to provide support, and volunteers sell their Pink Heals merchandise to give to the cause.
The national tour includes a number of pink fire trucks and other rescue vehicles that travel across the country to raise awareness of the campaign, support women and inspire men to get involved with the campaign. The stops on the tour serve as fundraising events.
The national tour had been in Rhode Island since Thursday, joining the four pink vehicles belonging to the Rhode Island Chapter of Pink Heals at events throughout the state. Over the past few days, volunteers and firefighters with the tour delivered flowers to survivors, took photos with women and children survivors and those currently undergoing treatment, visited patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, spent the day at the Bristol Fire Department for a fundraising event with local vendors, stopped by Sunny & Shear’s on Post Road in Warwick for the third annual Pink Heals Day, were at a fireworks display at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts and took part in East Providence’s Labor Day Parade. The tour’s visit concluded with their time at Oakland Beach last night.
In addition to purchasing Pink Heals merchandise, those who attend a Pink Heals event or see the trucks at similar events are encouraged to sign the vehicles, showing their support for those battling cancer.
The non-profit was started by Coventry firefighter Ted Dion, who encouraged his fellow firefighters to wear pink T-shirts during the month of October to show their support of women battling cancer after Dion’s own mother was diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time in summer 2009. Then in 2010, Dion brought the idea for a weeklong campaign of wearing pink T-shirts to the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Chiefs, who agreed to support the “Cares Enough To Wear Pink” campaign.
Following the adoption of the campaign, Dion began the process of starting a Pink Heals chapter by having a Coventry fire truck donated and painted pink. Since then, a rescue truck and two police cars were added to the pink force. Now the fleet travels to events for Rhode Island-based organizations such as Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, American Cancer Society, the Gloria Gemma Foundation and Women & Infants Oncology, among others. All money raised by the Rhode Island Chapter of Pink Heals through the sale of their merchandise goes to maintaining the vehicles, assisting female cancer fighters with their daily needs, delivering flowers to those in treatment, funding their Women’s Center and more.