Firefighter calls on locals to wear pink
Glendale, Ariz., Firefighter Dave Graybill donned pink turnout gear and drove a pink fire truck across the country this fall to rally support for breast cancer survivors and research. Starting from the Glendale Fire Department in August, Graybill stopped in 32 cities to join with other firefighters, police officers and local officials to promote the cause. During Graybill’s Pink Ribbon Tour he called for local officials to “Care Enough to Wear Pink” to show support for breast cancer survivors. American City & County spoke to Graybill as he wrapped up his tour about his motivation, experiences during the adventure, and goals for continuing to generate breast cancer awareness.
Q: Where in the world did you get the idea to do this?
A: A friend of mine from Las Cruces told me his fire department was going to wear pink shirts to honor the fight against breast cancer for the women of Las Cruces. The minute he told me, I thought it was a great idea. But, the following morning, I woke up and thought, why shouldn’t all men in this country rally in support of our women who are sick? So, I came up with the pink fire truck to signify our fight that will never end.
Q: How did you pull the project together?
A: I bought a big map of the U.S. and started putting dots where I wanted to drive a pink fire truck. I asked a company to build me a stainless steel statue of a pink ribbon, and they did. It took them seven months and about 500 hours after work and on weekends, and I pull that ribbon on a pink trailer. While that was being built, I was forming a non-profit group, and we created our own clothing line so we could generate funds, because I’m a fireman, and I don’t have any money.
The most wonderful thing that happened was, I’m in a Starbucks and meet a friend who introduces me to his wife, and I tell her what I’m going to do and why I’m doing it, and she gets out her checkbook and writes me a $13,500 check so I can buy a fire truck that I found on eBay from a firefighter in Jacksonville, Fla. A company wrapped it pink for free, and I’m driving it down the freeway, and some lady starts screaming at me, “Pull over, pull over.” [She] was the first person to sign the truck.
Q: What’s going to happen to the truck?
A: I’m going to pick up another truck, and I want to build a pink fire station. My goal is to get developers, architects and community leaders and people all over the country to build a shrine to our women, and every brick on the fire station will have the name of a woman who has gone through cancer. It will have a retail store, a restaurant and the pink fire trucks on display. Those pink trucks will go out in the community and help women with cancer.
Q: What can men do to support women who have breast cancer? And what can local government leaders do?
A: The fact that mayors, governors and senators are giving me proclamations on the “Care Enough to Wear Pink” days is saying they will honor those days in support of all our women who fight cancer. Hopefully they’re getting in pink to show the women they love them and to honor women in their fight against cancer. We, who have not been affected, let’s put on our t-shirts, strap our belts, pull up our pants, and let’s go rally and start supporting our women. I’m asking all men to wear pink to honor women in their fight against cancer. I’m asking police chiefs, fire chiefs, politicians, as leaders in the country, show your women you love them.