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Pink Heals Tour makes area its only Georgia stop

Area has fun fighting cancer

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POSTED: September 15, 2010 1:30 p.m.
Photo by Lawrence Dorsey/

A firefighter with the tour poses with members of the Suzie Q's, a group of local residents who organize and attend events to raise breast cancer awareness.

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Cancer is a terrorist.
That’s Dave Graybill’s philosophy and the reason he founded the Pink Heals Tour — to raise cancer awareness — and help communities build resources for those who want answers.  
On Monday, The Pink Heals Tour stopped in Hinesville with a parade of pink fire engines. The vehicles are covered in signatures scrawled by survivors and supporters alike who have encountered the trucks on the 74-day tour.
By wearing pink and coasting across the United States — 19 states and 48 cities in all — Graybill hopes to inspire men to wear pink and support women who are battling the deadly disease.
Graybill and fellow firefighters voluntarily use their own vacation time to keep the tour alive. They call themselves the “Guardians of the Ribbon.”
Shane Shifflett, a firefighter on Fort Stewart, heard about Graybill’s tour and wanted to start a local chapter of the Guardians of the Ribbon.
“It’s awesome. It took so much planning,” said Shifflett of the tour and his founding of the Pink Heals Southeast Georgia Chapter.
Because of Shifflett’s efforts, the tour made Hinesville its only stop in all of Georgia.
Hinesville owns a pink trooper car and one pink fire engine, which is named Carolyn after Liberty County Commissioner Marion Stevens’ wife, who died of cancer last year. Stevens drove his wife’s namesake truck into the parking lot, following closely behind the other engines.
Most of those who watched the trucks come in had smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. Many attendees signed the trucks with black markers and posed for photos with firefighters wearing pink uniforms.
“Anyone who is doing anything for cancer is great,” said Georgette King, a 10-year breast cancer survivor.
King found out she had cancer on her honeymoon while in Paris, and fought it with everything she had. She underwent a partial mastectomy. She now sports a pink ribbon tattoo across her wrist as a reminder of her battle, and for the hope that a cure may be found.
“They’ve got to find a cure for everyone,” she said of cancer’s ability to affect any person at any age.
The parade ended at Poole’s Deli, where various booths had been set up to offer literature about breast exams. Vendors sold T-shirts and accepted donations on behalf of local cancer awareness organizations.
The Suzie Q’s, a local breast cancer awareness group, also hosted an all-you-can-eat pink pancake supper at Poole’s to coincide with the tour stop.
Graybill, sporting black and pink Nike running shoes, spoke to a crowd of about 300 in the parking lot.
Regarding his reason for starting the tour, he said, “I just love people,” he said.
“I haven’t been touched by cancer,” said Graybill. “No one in my family has had cancer.”
He compared cancer to terrorism and said that he and the rest of the men he can rally in the nation will go to war with it on women’s behalf.
“Men were put here by God to protect their women,” he said. “I’m only one guy. I can only drive one truck.”
 Graybill doesn’t ask for money, but he said he would like people to buy T-shirts when the tour stops in each city. 
A self-described lifelong humanitarian, the Pink Heals founder has a lofty goal of acquiring 200 trucks and starting 100 different chapters in three years.
“Wherever the trucks go, I go,” Graybill said.
 

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