By PHIL ATTINGER
SEBRING — If you didn’t get a pink T-shirt last year to support breast cancer detection and treatment, you’ll get a chance again.
The Highlands Fire and EMS Foundation will have shirts again this year to support the fight against breast cancer by helping fund mammograms at the Highlands Breast Care Center.
Highlands County Fire Rescue Chief Marc Bashoor said this effort will be just like last year’s T-shirt sale to both emergency responders and the general public.
This year, designs will differ between the shirts for the general public and for county emergency personnel, so that the emergency personnel can wear the shirts on a daily basis as their uniforms.
Last year’s shirts didn’t have all the necessary markings for uniforms, which the employee shirts would need to have.
Plus, Bashoor said, he would want emergency personnel and civilians to be easily distinguishable at an emergency incident, even if they are both wearing pink cancer-fight shirts.
The process of selecting those two designs is still underway, and Bashoor hopes to have an announcement soon on the two designs, possibly at the regular meeting on Tuesday at the county commission chambers at 600 S. Commerce Ave. in Sebring.
As of early October last year, the Foundation had sold 250 out of the 300 bright pink T-shirts that had been printed up for the effort.
Every member of the Board of County Commission had shirts for the first meeting of that month, as did Bashoor and Emergency Manager LaTosha “Tosh” Reiss, to honor October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
County administration and employees also had several other plans for raising funds that fall, funds which would help pay for cancer screenings when patients otherwise would skip them because of the expense.
Bashoor saw his mother fight cancer and defeat it. Reiss saw her mother’s best friend and her second mother, “Momma Gail,” lose a battle to cancer.
In her senior year her mother got diagnosed, but is now cancer free for 10 years.
Chief Deputy Tim Eures, at Highlands County Fire and Rescue, lost his father a year after diagnosis 12 years ago.
He also lost a friend, Steve Whitney, who started fighting fires when he did.
Eures said Whitney would “knock the fire back,” knowing the “fire” could rekindle.
“Ultimately, sometimes, the fire doesn’t go out,” Eures said. “Steve was firm in his belief. Around him, he made you laugh.”
Eures said cancer prevention is also like fire prevention: Constantly checking for trouble spots and staying aware to fight a fire as soon as it starts, not letting it get ahead of you.
“It may only take one more gallon of water, but it goes out,” Eures said. “Fighting cancer, that’s money.”
This year’s shirts have not yet been printed. Once they are, people may email Bashoor at email@example.com or call the Emergency Operations Center at 863-385-1112.