By ANGIE CARNATHAN
In 2008, Starkville Fire Department Training Officer Charles Yarbrough attended the National Fire Academy in Maryland.
While there, he met a man whose wife was battling breast cancer. The man’s struggle really touched his heart, Yarbrough.
“He told me about these pink fire trucks that had come to his station,” Yarbrough said. “So I decided to get some information about the trucks and see if we could get them to come to Starkville.”
Yarbrough contacted Glendale, Ariz., Firefighter Dave Graybill, the founder of the Pink Heals fire trucks. Graybill began the non-profit in 2008.
According to the Pink Heals website, Graybill’s vision also began with a conversation with a fellow firefighter.
“A friend of mine told me his fire department was going to wear pink shirts to honor the fight against breast cancer for the women of their town,” Graybill said. “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.”
The tour started with 32 cities but grew in popularity quickly, therefore Yarbrough’s first attempt to get the trucks here was unsuccessful.
“I tried to get us on the list of destinations that year, but I couldn’t,” Yarbrough said. “They ended up getting us on the schedule for 2010.”
Last year was the first time the Pink Heals fire trucks have visited Mississippi, and so far Starkville is the only city in Mississippi that they visit.
“The Pink Heals tour is pink fire trucks, of course, but it’s not just in support of breast cancer awareness,” Yarbrough said. “It supports awareness of all types of cancer.”
The Pink Heals fire trucks will be at Sudduth Elementary on Monday morning from 9-10:30 a.m. The Sudduth Elementary students are having a pink pep rally in honor of the trucks.
The tour then goes to Armstrong Middle School at 10:30 a.m., where the cheerleaders will perform a special routine.
From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. the pink trucks will be at Fire Station No. 1 at 503 E. Lampkin St. in Starkville. The public is encouraged to come by and sign the trucks in honor or memory of a loved one who has battled cancer.
At 1 p.m. the trucks will be at Ward Stewart. The students there are having a “pinkest room” contest.
The final stop for the Pink Heals tour Monday is Oktibbeha County Hospital at 3 p.m. The public is invited to come by there as well.
Melissa Dixon helped with the Pink Heals tour last year and said it was a great family event.
“My daughter, Delia, got a huge kick out of seeing these massive pink fire trucks rolling into the event last year, and she still wears the pink helmet from last year’s event,” Dixon said.
The trucks will head to Memphis, Tenn. from Starkville, and Yarbrough plans on being along for the ride.
“This is gonna be something really special for me,” Yarbrough said. “I’m really excited about seeing how they do their job.”
For more information on the Pink Heals tour, visit http://www.pinkfiretrucks.org .