In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is encouraging its affiliates to participate in fundraising and awareness campaigns in support of women in their fight against breast and other cancers.
Current Brazil City Fire Department Chief Jake Bennett began the local effort last year, selling T-shirts stating, "Tough Enough to Wear Pink."
Lamb recently lost an aunt to breast cancer; she was the second aunt he's lost to the disease.
"To me, that's the ultimate reason I got into it," Lamb said. "One hundred percent."
Lamb decided he wanted to incorporate the fire department into the T-shirt designs for this year's campaign. He designed the picture on the back of the T-shirts, creating a logo of the breast cancer awareness ribbon with flames at the bottom.
The T-shirts read, "Brazil Fire Department" on the top of the back, and below, "Fully Involved," a motto the firefighters often use. At the bottom of the back of the T-shirts, they read, "Extinguishing Breast Cancer." The front of the T-shirts sport the IAFF local logo.
"(Bennett) got it started last year, and I definitely want to keep it going," Lamb said. "We're a small soldier in a big army."
The cause is also important to cancer survivor and firefighter Shane Zurcher, secretary/treasurer of the local 1453 union.
"Cancer impacts everybody in one way or another whether directly or indirectly," Zurcher said. "There's a movement for awareness and to get research done, and I think jumping onboard is a good thing for the local and international union."
It all started when, according to Zurcher, the Terre Haute Fire Department was the first city to promote the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" campaign. The firefighters wore pink shirts and began selling them. Many other local departments picked up the idea.
After seeing the success of the campaigns, the IAFF passed a resolution supporting and encouraging IAFF members to develop campaigns to benefit local and national organizations dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. The resolution was passed in 2010, and the IAFF has endorsed the campaign in the United States, Canada and Australia.
In 2011, the IAFF collaborated with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to introduce a "Passionately Pink for the Cure" campaign for affiliates that conduct campaigns benefiting Komen and its affiliates. More than 130 IAFF affiliates participated in the 2011 program, which offers U.S. affiliates various resources and activities to use in their campaigns. Donations collected by affiliates through the Passionately Pink program -- totaling $89,594.60 -- were shared equally by Susan G. Komen and the IAFF Charitable Foundation.
This year, on Thursdays and Fridays in October, IAFF members will wear the pink shirts with their uniforms.
Eventually, Lamb wants to draw an outline of the breast cancer awareness ribbon between the cow palace and the softball diamond in Forest Park, having people wearing pink to stand within the outline. They would then take a topographical photograph using the ariel ladder on the fire engine.
"Shane and I are going to send them to the bigger cause, which is the state, and then it could be published locally," Lamb said.
Garage Graphics and T's, Staunton, is creating the T-shirts for the Brazil firefighters.
There are four different styles of the shirts available for purchase. Solid pink T-shirts are $15. Tye-dye pink T-shirts sell for $20. A lighter pink long-sleeve T-shirt is $20, and a hooded sweatshirt is $25. All proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Only adult sizes are available, and any sizes over 2X will cost $3 more.
To order a T-shirt, community members can pick up an order form at the Brazil Fire Station. After the order form has been turned in, it will take 7-10 days before the shirts are in. T-shirts can be picked up on Mondays or Tuesdays.
The T-shirts will be on sale until Oct. 19.
"We appreciate as much community support as we can get," Lamb said.