Members of the Coon Rapids Fire Department have been raising awareness of breast cancer as well as money for a breast cancer survivor program.
For the fourth year, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Coon Rapids Firefighters Local 1935 members have been wearing pink breast cancer awareness shirts as well as selling them for $20 each.
Order forms for the pink shirts were available for the public to sign up for delivery at the fire department’s open houses at its three fire stations Oct. 12.
All the proceeds from sale of the shirts go to Allina Health’s support groups for breast cancer survivors at Mercy and Unity Hospitals, according to Justin Hite, the Coon Rapids firefighter who coordinates the breast cancer awareness project.
Instead of the regular support group meetings, participants were invited to a “surprise night” special event last year paid for by the firefighters’ donation.
“We promoted it telling the breast cancer survivors that it would be a special night that would be worth coming to, but we couldn’t tell them what to expect,” Laurie Kelzenberg, cancer care coordinator, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute, Unity Hospital, wrote in a letter to the fire department following last year events.
Employees and community members volunteered their time to put on the special programs at Unity and Mercy Hospitals, according to Kelzenberg.
At the “surprise nights,” stations were set up with different activities, including a hand massage; five-minute makeovers for hair, make-up or scarf tying; piano music with sing-a-long books; acupuncture; aromatherapy; photo booth; pop and popcorn machine; fresh apples with caramel sauce; and temporary tattoos of pink ribbons, Kelzenberg wrote.
Each woman left with a fresh mum plant and a gift bag with miscellaneous items, she wrote.
“It was a great success and thanks for your support,” Kelzenberg told the firefighters in her letter.
Firefighters wore the pink shirts for just over a week this month, Hite said.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]