December 22, 2014
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Dinner, dancing on tap at RI Pink Heals Ball
Steve Popiel
HAVING A BALL: Pictured is Lt. Ted Dion, founder of the RI Pink Heals and a member of the Central Coventry Fire District, with Meri Kennedy, a Cranston Herald, Johnston Sun Rise and Warwick Beacon reporter who is also a breast cancer survivor, at last year’s Pink Heals Ball. The Pink Heals is made up of volunteers who support women battling cancer and their families.

The third annual RI Pink Heals Ball will be held at 6 p.m. April 26 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, with the night to feature dinner, dancing and fun.

The ball was started in 2012 because the Pink Heals wanted a night where those battling cancer and cancer survivors could get dressed up, go out and forget about life for a while.

“It was also a great opportunity for the volunteers of our organization to get to see those we have met and see how they are doing,” said Lt. Ted Dion, Pink Heals founder and a member of the Central Coventry Fire District.

“Our volunteers consist of cancer survivors, police officers, firefighters, teachers, homemakers and more. They are people that believe in helping men and women in their own community. All money raised in in the community stays in the community,” said Dion.

Proceeds from the ball go to support the RI Pink Heals direct care program. The program is used to assist those currently in treatment for cancer and struggling. They assist in paying co-pays for treatments, heating homes, putting food on the table and with other needs.

The master of ceremonies is John Porch, who was voted 2011’s Best Comic in R.I. Music will be provided by DJ Eric Anthony of Sounds Spectacular DJ Service.

The cost of the evening is $50 per person ($500 per table), with open seating unless a full table is purchased with table of 10. The dinner choice is boneless chicken, baked scrod, prime rib or vegetarian choice. Dress is formal/semi-formal, with men in a Class A uniform or suit and women in gowns or similar.

The first year of the ball sold out in two weeks, consisting of 225 people. Last year, the event moved to a bigger venue and sold out at 475 participants. This year, the goal is to sell out with 550 participants, and tickets are already being purchased quickly.

“At the ball,” said Dion, “we recognize people in the community that have supported those battling cancer. The first awards were given to businesses that raised funds. Last year, we had a contest for cancer survivors to nominate someone that went above and beyond the norm to help them during their treatments. Awards were given to doctors, nurses, husbands and friends. This year we will be recognizing our top fundraisers of 2013.”

How did it all begin? In the summer of 2009, Dion found out that his mother, Jackie, had been diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time. Trying to find a way to fight back against this terrible disease, he sought out the organization Pink Heals. 

In November of 2009, Dion brought the idea to his fellow firefighters of wearing pink T-shirts on duty in the month of October to show their support for women battling cancer. The firefighters welcomed the idea with open arms.

In March 2010, Ted stood before the Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs to gain their support for the “Cares Enough to Wear Pink” campaign. The fire chiefs agreed to support the campaign.

Then, in April 2010, Dion went before the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters to once ask for their support with the campaign. He explained that he was asking every fire department in the state to wear pink T-shirts for one week in the month of October. On May 20, 2010, the firefighters association officially adopted the campaign.

In the months to come, Dion decided he wanted to start his own chapter of the Pink Heals. With lots of hard work, he had a fire truck donated to him by Chief Paul Labbadia of the Coventry Fire District. Not having the funds to get it painted pink, it stayed in storage for future use.

When Dion went to drive the pink fire trucks on the national tour from Arizona to Illinois, the members of the Central Coventry Fire District decided to have Ted’s truck painted and surprise him when he returned to Rhode Island. In 10 days and approximately 700 man hours, Ted’s brother firefighters changed his truck from green to pink. 

The newly painted pink truck was then named “Jackie,” after Ted’s mom. On Aug. 30, “Jackie” drove down Ted’s driveway for the surprise of his life. Jackie was the first person to sign the new truck. The next day, the paperwork was submitted to “officially” establish the Rhode Island Chapter of the Pink Heals.

Since then, the chapter has also acquired a rescue vehicle, fire engine and two police cars – all painted pink in recognition of the group’s support for women and their families battling all types of cancer and at any age.

For tickets to the Pink Heals Ball, contact Matt Medeiros at 692-0272 or Chris Seelenbrandt at 578-5498. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ripinktrucks.com. Rooms can be booked at hotels for a discounted rate. Please contact them for more information.


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