By Melanie Posey
GARDENDALE, AL (WBRC) - When trouble breaks out, Gardendale's firefighters run to help. And until recently, they have never done so wearing pink T-shirts.
Crew members are wearing the hot pink t-shirts as they head into October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"This is our chance to stand up and give back to the community and let people know, hey...when you're too weak to fight, we're going to fight for you," says Gardendale Fire Lt. Rick Smith.
He got the idea for the shirts after learning about a national group in Arizona called "Guardians of the Ribbon." That group of firefighters started with not just pink t-shirts, but pink turn-outs and even a pink fire engine.
Realizing the effort was going to such an important cause, Smith thought it would be great if his department could join in. "It just felt like the right thing to do. We have a city employee who is fighting breast cancer right now." Her name is Barbara Cobb.
In April, 2008, she found a lump in her breast. "But then the doctor I saw disregarded it as breast cancer. He thought it was just a cyst."
But Cobb said she felt that wasn't true and had a mammogram but that didn't show any problems either. It wasn't until 7 months later that Cobb learned she really did have cancer.
By then, it wasn't just in her breast, but in her lymph nodes, shoulder blades, and bone marrow. She had surgery and underwent chemotherapy and now she's in remission and doing well.
"You accept what's there and live your life to the fullest each day," she said. "(And) working with the guys and they seem so sincere and earnest in what they're doing, I feel on top of the world right now."
The firefighters are selling the shirts for $10 each. On October 25th, 26th and 27th, they're asking the entire city to wear them. While it may become a yearly event, they hope a cure can be discovered before then.
"Everybody wants to be able to say, ‘I don't have to worry about my daughter or granddaughter getting it or anybody else. I don't want my wife to go through this," Smith says. "So long term, I hope we don't have to put the pink t-shirts back on."
If you'd like to buy one of the t-shirts, they're for sale at the fire station, city hall, the civic center and library. The money will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama.
Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.
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