The Turlock Firefighters Local #2434 is gearing up for its annual pink T-shirt fundraiser and awareness raising campaign and are currently accepting nominations for the Pink Helmet Award.
The Pink Helmet Award will be presented to someone whose life has been touched by cancer and who represents the characteristics of a firefighter — compassion, bravery, honesty, commitment and courage. Nominees must be residents of Stanislaus or Merced counties.
“Our 2016 award was presented posthumously to Sonja Ilits, one of the original speakers of Emanuel’s annual cancer awareness event", said Turlock Firefighters member Kevin Tidwell. “No matter her eight cancer diagnoses in her lifetime, or more than 10 cancer-related surgeries, or literally hundreds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments during her vibrant and meaningful life, Sonja remained a tireless advocate for cancer awareness, and lived each day with true purpose.”
The Pink Helmet Award was first given out in 2013, and was created because the firefighters thought the people dealing with breast cancer, both as patients and caregivers, deserved some recognition for their efforts.
The Pink Helmet Award is in addition to the specially designed pink T-shirts the fire department will be wearing and selling in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. All the funds go to the Bill & Elsie Ahlem Cancer Endowment. Shirts will be available for purchase starting Sept. 18 at the gift shop at Emanuel Medical Center. Last year’s efforts brought in more than $20,000 for the endowment and over the years the fundraising campaign has netted more than $80,000 in funds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s State Cancer Profiles showed that Stanislaus County had a rate of 313 breast cancer diagnosis per year.
The Turlock Firefighters will present the award at the Emanuel Cancer Center’s Women’s Cancer Awareness Night Out, slated for Oct. 17. This year’s event will feature celebrity internet sensation and People Magazine’s “Sexiest Doctor Alive” Dr. Mikhail “Doctor Mike” Varshavski. The event will begin at 7 p.m. with a procession of cancer survivors and conclude with a dessert reception. Tickets are free and can be ordered beginning at 6 a.m. Sept. 13, online at emanuelmedicalcenter.org/cancer or by phone toll free at (855) 819-5294. Tickets are limited to two per person.
Nomination forms for the Pink Helmet Award can be downloaded and submitted online at www.turlockfirefighters.org through Sept. 25.