Fire departments are usually associated with the color red. But the Turlock Fire Department was all about pink – and green – in October.
For the second consecutive year, the Turlock Fire Department went pink for breast cancer awareness in October, selling T-shirts to raise greenbacks for the Emanuel Cancer Center.
On Tuesday, Turlock Fire Captain Frank Saldivar revealed that the department raised a whopping $14,000 this year. The revenues fell just a bit short of last year, when firefighters raised $18,000.
Saldivar, who organizes the annual sale, took the blame for the lower total. What seemed to be a good idea – ordering a massive number of T-shirts in September – turned bad when firefighters were left with few shirts to sell in October.
“Wow, did I fail on that one,” Salazar said.
That first order – consisting of 2,000 shirts – ran out almost before October began. Restocking took longer than anticipated, leaving firefighters in a mad scramble to sell as many shirts as possible in the last week-and-a-half of October.
Even though the amount raised didn't quite measure up to last year, Emanuel Medical Center CEO John Sigsbury was still pleased with the locally-driven fundraising effort.
“It's great that this money, it's raised locally and it gets used locally,” Sigsbury said.
All funds raised will benefit the Bill & Elsie Ahlem Cancer Endowment, a permanent fund at Emanuel Medical Center that expands cancer services, research and prevention and education programs in the community.
Saldivar thanked the community for supporting the fundraising drive by purchasing and wearing the pink T-shirts. Even Turlock's smallest residents – elementary schoolers as young as five – got onboard with the campaign, he said, making the pink T-shirts a hot fashion item in many local schools.
And Saldivar thanked the countless Turlockers who shared personal stories about their friends and families' struggles with cancer. Those stories are what make all the hard work worthwhile, he said – and has firefighters already planning next year's T-shirt sale.
“I think that's the motivation and the drive that keeps us going for the whole month,” Saldivar said.