VACAVILLE — Solano County’s chapter of the Pink Heals is almost ready to hit the road to raise awareness of women’s health issues and provide succor to women cancer survivors.
The chapter’s carriage will be a large 1983 fire engine with its flashy pink paint job, which only needs a little more detailing before it’s ready.
It was donated two months ago by the Vacaville Fire Department, which founder and vice president of the chapter Lynne DiModica said has “gone above and beyond with their support for us.” Its paint job was made possible by the Vacaville Soroptomists, and its insurance and registration was taken care by NorthBay Medical Center.
The engine has been named Christine in honor of Christine Franklin of Vacaville, who had breast cancer for five years before she died June 3, 2011. That was only a couple of days after a fire truck with the national Pink Heals tour passed through the county on Memorial Day weekend.
DiModica and chapter president and Suisun City Fire Chief Mike O’Brien consider the naming an appropriate honor for the woman who helped with a fundraiser only a month before she died.
O’Brien and DiModica got involved two years ago with the national Pink Heals Foundation, which supports women who are recovering from cancer treatment. Part of that support is the Pink Heals Tour, where pink fire trucks and police cars tour the nation to raise money and increase awareness.
The Suisun City fire chief took part in one of the Pink Heals fire truck tours that made its way from Arizona to Chicago before heading west. At each of the stops, both cancer survivors and loved ones shared stories and signed the fire engine. None of the signatures are ever washed off so that they can become part of the engine’s very essence, O’Brien said.
“By the time it reached Vacaville, there was not a clear spot left,” O’Brien said of more than 4,000 signatures that were written on the engine.
Part of the fire engine named Christine’s purpose is to raise money to help cancer survivors cover costs such as chemotherapy and living expenses. It also serves as a symbol at events, such as health fairs and fundraising events, to allow people to talk about women’s health issues are share their stories of how they deal with cancer.
The third purpose is to lend moral support to cancer survivors by visiting their homes carrying volunteering firefighters who will be dressed in pink turnout gear and carrying a bouquet of flowers or something else to cheer them up, O’Brien said.
Pink Heals members still need to raise between $7,000 and $10,000 to finish detailing the fire engine, “and then we will be able to go on the road,” O’Brien said. The Pink Heals chapter could also use a secure, covered place with easy access to store the fire engine.
For more information, to donate or to volunteer, call DiModica at 1-800-203-6549 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be sent to Guardians of the Ribbon, Solano County CA Chapter, P.O. Box 2743, Vacaville, CA 95696.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.