By Jeff Gallatin
City safety forces and their supporters say the sequel to their version of “Pretty in Pink” is bigger and better than last year’s version.
Members of the North Olmsted Fire Department, along with city safety dispatchers, secretaries in the police department and other assorted personnel in the city, will again be wearing pink shirts during part of October to note Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Last year, participants wore the shirts for one week. This year, participants will be wearing them for two weeks — from Oct. 1 through 14.
Dave Boatman, president of the North Olmsted firefighters’ union, said the additional week came about because of the big interest in the event by participants and others.
“We thought people would appreciate what we were doing once they realized what we were doing,” he said. “But it proved to be even more popular than we anticipated in different ways.”
Boatman said there were requests to be able to wear the shirts for more than one week.
“We had people who were on vacation that week who were unhappy that they weren’t able to wear them to show their support, and we had others who wanted to wear them for more than just a couple of days, so we decided that two weeks would work out better for doing it this year,” he said. “We’re glad to do it, because it just means it’s a longer period that we can help make people aware of why we’re doing it.”
Boatman chuckled in noting some of the reactions to people seeing city firefighters in the pink shirts this year.
“We definitely got some looks from different people when they would first see us out in the shirts,” he said. “We also had some patients who, when they would see us, they would be asking, ‘Why are you are wearing pink? Firefighters and police wear blue,’ with kind of a funny look on their face. When we would explain it, people would always understand it and appreciate what we were doing.”
Boatman said the shirt even produced some unanticipated benefits.
“We raised nearly $400 by selling T-shirts,” he said. “We weren’t planning on doing fundraising formally like that, but we had people ask to buy shirts, so we ended up selling some and donating the money to breast cancer research.”
Boatman said the firefighters feel it’s appropriate for them to wear the shirts to support breast cancer awareness.
“We’re there for people when they have health issues or emergencies, so it’s nice that we can do something to help make people aware of this,” he said.
North Olmsted Police Capt. Mike Kilbane, who supervises the safety dispatchers and secretaries, echoed Boatman’s sentiments in noting why workers wear the pink shirts.
“We want to show our support as well,” he said. “There aren’t too many people who haven’t been affected by cancer, either through someone they know or themselves. So we think it’s a good thing to wear the shirts.”