By Ashley Luthern
Township firefighters are trading their usual white and blue shirts for a hot pink hue this month, hoping to raise awareness and funds for breast-cancer research.
“If you’re going to do it, you might as well go all out. ... [The color] stands out, and that’s what we wanted to do,” said Scot Murray, the Boardman firefighter who designed the department’s “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” shirts.
This year, Boardman joins other Mahoning Valley departments, such as Youngstown and Austintown, in designing department-specific T-shirts to wear in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The profits from area T-shirt sales benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation dedicated to breast-cancer research and education.
Austintown Interim Fire Chief Andy Frost III said the effort was led by the firefighters.
“It’s been really fun for us. They came to me and asked if they could do it, and I think it’s wonderful,” Frost said.
Austintown sold custom-designed blue shirts with pink ribbons to department employees. In Boardman, firefighters did the same and also will sell their pink shirts to the public Saturday during the annual Fire Safety Open House from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the main station, 136 Boardman-Canfield Road.
Shirts cost $15, and if someone purchases four or more shirts, the price drops to $10 per shirt, said Harry Wolfe, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1176 in Boardman.
The national IAFF has a charitable branch that works with the Komen Foundation and is encouraging the T-shirt designs, he said.
In Youngstown, this is the second year firefighters have worn blue “Pink Ribbon” duty shirts, said firefighter Courtney Kelly. Those shirts are available for $10 and must be pre-ordered by calling 330-518-4358.
“So many in our department know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, and we just want to help get the word out,” Kelly said.
Murray said the pink shirts have been well-received in Boardman.
“It’s taken off more than I thought it would. I think people like it and it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
“We do a lot more than just collect union dues. We step up and do things. We’ve raised money for the [Muscular Dystrophy Association] and now Komen,” Murray added.
Murray said he’s hoping to recruit some firefighters for “Movember,” when men grow mustaches throughout November to raise awareness and funds for prostate-cancer research.
“We can look forward for that, too,” he said.