WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Houston County lost two prominent firefighters to cancer earlier this year. Councilman Mike Davis, who served as the Warner Robins Assistant Fire Chief and Jimmy Williams, who was the Houston County Fire Chief, both died from pancreatic cancer.
The International Association of Firefighters Local F-107, Robins Professional Fire Fighters are selling t-shirts this month to support a Central Georgia non-profit that helps families going through cancer treatment.
Union President, John Whitson said he has seen cancer in his own family and within his department and he wants to help in any way he can.
"It’s always in the back of my mind because it touched our family personally," Whitson said.
His late sister-in-law battled cancer for five years.
Now, Whitson and the rest of his department want to help families going through the same thing.
"We’re trying to raise the awareness," he said.
Awareness, and money.
The Robins Professional Fire Fighters are selling t-shirts for $21 and that money will go to the Georgia Cancer Friends Foundation.
Judy Mason, President of the organization, said this money will help people battling cancer who need financial aid.
"That’s what it’s all about, loving one another and helping," Mason said.
She started the non-profit when she opened her store, Color Me Pink, in 2008.
People can apply for help by submitting a written statement on their medical situation and financial needs.
Mason says it can help for groceries, electric bills, or whatever they may need.
Kyle Heusner, the Treasurer for Robins Professional Fire Fighters, says the cancer battles they have seen within their own department is a big reason for the fundraiser.
"We have men in the department that have gone through cancer. The cancer risks are a lot higher for firemen because of our jobs," Heusner said.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, fire fighters are 9 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and have a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.
Heusner says they take preventative measures, like washing and decontaminating their gear after a call and then testing it to make sure it is clean and up to standard.
But, he says they all know the dangers.
"It’s the risk of the job. Our job is inherently dangerous. We’ve chosen to do that job. We’ve chosen to just deal with those dangers as they come along with the job and we’ve accepted it," he said.
They have been selling the t-shirts for the last three years and last year, they raised over $400.
You can order a t-shirt on their website until Sept.15. Pickup for the t-shirts will be on Sept. 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Caldwell Banker SSK.
Whitson says they want everyone to wear the shirts throughout Oct.
Firefighters on the base will be allowed to wear their shirts while on duty.
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