Pink is the signature color of a group of firefighters and their trucks in part of a 16-state tour to help raise cancer awareness.
The Pink Heals national tour, based in Phoenix, made a stop in Billings on Wednesday afternoon at the Rimrock Mall parking lot, where dozens of people affected by cancer signed their names, or a loved one’s name, on one of three pink fire trucks on the tour.
Leonard Ruthruff, of Allegan, Mich., began the tour Aug. 26 to help promote the nonprofit group's mission of honoring women who have fought against cancer and inspiring people to make a difference against the disease in their community.
“It’s an amazing mission to ultimately show communities how easy it really is to take care of each other,” Ruthruff said.
Volunteer tour drivers, mostly active and retired firefighters and other service men and women, commit up to 18 days as volunteers to drive pink fire trucks and pink police cars across America.
The Founder of the international Pink Heals movement is Dave Graybill, a former pro athlete, retired firefighter and philanthropist.
Graybill, who retired from the Glendale (Ariz.) Fire Department after 21 years, used $3,000 of his own money to start Pink Heals in 2007, which has taken hold in dozens of communities and fire stations across the country.
The founder says he wants to help communities across the nation focus on people in their communities by keeping raised funds local instead of going to larger corporations.
The organization funds its cross-country tours exclusively on T-shirt sales. Instead of seeing money raised going to large nonprofit organizations and corporations, Graybill has developed a business plan for local firefighters or other community members who wish to serve as a chapter’s chair to raise money to serve women battling cancer and their families.
“And the hundreds of thousands of names signed on the trucks are to remind people they are not alone with their battle with cancer,” Ruthruff said.
The Pink Heals Tour will be in Butte on Thursday.