Hot pink fire engines to roll into Aurora on Pink Heals Tour

The Aurora Regional Fire Museum, often billed as the hottest place in town, is turning hot pink when three pink fire engines roll into town on Saturday, Aug. 25, as part of the Guardians of the Ribbon — national Pink Heals Tour.

The event is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of the museum and Aurora's Central Fire Station, at New York and Broadway, in downtown.

Led by founder Dave Graybill, a retired firefighter from Arizona, the Guardians of the Ribbon are volunteer firefighters and police officers who bring love and hope to communities around the country in the form of pink fire trucks.

This summer the guardians will travel 16,000 miles across the U.S. on a three-month road trip providing support and creating awareness of women's issues. They are making four stops in the Chicago area, in Joliet, Bartlett, Naperville and Aurora.

Pink angels

Two years ago Ruth Kramp was diagnosed with breast cancer. Just six weeks earlier, her husband, Randy, a third-generation Aurora Firefighter, had succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Yet on the night before Ruth's first of three breast cancer surgeries, she was having a night on the town, surrounded by family and friends sporting pink feather boas and firefighters wearing pink fire gear and driving bright pink fire engines. She was attending a stop on the Guardians' of the Ribbon “Pink Heals Tour” hosted in 2010 by Naperville firefighters.

Kramp is now in remission, but she will never forget the love and the joy given by the guardians, and she is eager for other women — and all those battling cancer of any type — to experience that same support when the pink fire engines roll back through northern Illinois.

“Those pink angels driving pink fire engines were sent to give me hope,” said Kramp. “When I would get down and out after my chemo treatments and feeling crummy, I would go back through the photos we had taken during the 2010 Naperville Pink Heals event. Those memories got me through many lonely and very hard nights.”

Why Pink?

Firefighters and police officers traditionally wear blue uniforms. The Guardians of the Ribbon trade their blue uniforms for pink in honor of women, to let them know they care.

“We wear pink because pink stands for women,” said Graybill. “And because Pink Heals.”

Graybill said the Pink Heals Tour raises awareness, but it is not simply an awareness campaign.

“We bring our pink fire trucks to cities so they may hold fundraisers and generate proceeds that will stay in their communities,” he said.

The guardians do not ask for financial support for bringing the pink trucks to any community,” David Lewis, curator of the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, said. “All proceeds raised at each tour stop stay within that local community.

“This is a free event, but it is intended as a fundraiser,” Lewis said. “There will be firefighters painting fingernails pink for donations, and pink firefighter T-shirts and other merchandise for sale.

“Although the event is being co-hosted by the Aurora Fire Department and the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, all proceeds will benefit local cancer care centers and organizations.”

At each tour stop, anybody who has experienced cancer is invited to sign one of the pink trucks and receive words of support and encouragement from the firefighter guardians.

The free event also features local health clinics and cancer resource organizations, safety displays, games, family-friendly entertainment, and free admission to the Aurora Regional Fire Museum.

Pink hot dogs, pink cotton candy, pink lemonade and cherry-pink ice cream are available for purchase, along with other pink merchandise.

Aurora's Pink Heals event is hosted by the Aurora Fire Department and the Aurora Regional Fire Museum with support provided by the Aurora Firefighters Local 99, the Aurora Firefighters Auxiliary, and the city of Aurora, among others.

For more information, maps, directions, and parking information,

If you go

What: Pink Heals Fire Truck Tour

When and where:

Thursday, Aug. 23: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 at Centegra Hospital McHenry, 4201 Medical Center Drive; and 2 to 4 p.m. at Centegra Hospital Woodstock, 3701 Doty Road

Saturday, Aug. 25: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 25 at Aurora Regional Fire Museum and Aurora's Central Fire Station, New York and Broadway, downtown Aurora

Cost: Free admission


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