'Pink Heals Tour' Honors Women'

When pink fire trucks roll into town, the community typically thinks it's all about cancer.

That's not the case at all, says Dave Graybill, who created the Pink Heals Tour.

"Women are the glue to everything," the Glendale, Ariz. firefighter said during a recent interview in Chicago. "This tour honors women -- our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters."

Graybill said in addition to honoring women, the effort does involve remembering and drawing attention to cancers that affect them.

"When you see pink, you automatically think breast cancer," he said, adding that the tour participants recognize other cancers that don't often get much attention.

Graybill said he and his team take every opportunity to remind people to think about the vital role women play in their lives. "Our mothers shape us into the person we become. They love us unconditionally, and support us."

One woman he met in a coffee shop was so moved by his organization's mission she donated $13,000.

Graybill said the effort has caught on across the country, and 17 chapters have been formed. Firefighters and police officers in other communities are discussing the effort as well.

Pink fire trucks and police cars and pink turnout gear are showing up in small communities as well as large metropolitan areas.

While some purchase fire trucks they find for sale online, departments eager to support the movement have donated retired vehicles.

What makes the Pink Heals Tour different is the way it's operated. "When a fire department invites us into a community, they typically hold an event or fundraiser. That money stays there. Many have used it to help a family whose mother or wife or sister has cancer."

T-shirts and other items sold by tour officials pay for the fuel and maintenance of the fire trucks on tour.

The response has been overwhelming, and Graybill says he's not sure how many lives have been touched because the pink vehicles with the crews clad in pink have paraded through the streets.

People also are invited to write a message about a loved one on the trucks. Some simply write the name of a person lost to the deadly disease, while others post personal remembrances.

They also thank the Pink Heals Tour for honoring women.

One thing, though, you won't find pink -- the worldwide symbol of breast cancer -- is any of the merchandise or anything associated with the tour.

As Graybill explained, any funds raised go to women who are suffering and to their families, not research.

"We're at war against this terrorist attack called cancer."