Victoria Fire Department starts South Texas pink fire truck chapter
May 4, 2011 at 12:04 a.m.
Updated May 9, 2011 at 12:09 a.m.
COLETO CREEK - Sirens are heard rising and falling in the distance.
People file along the side of the gravel road as they see the lights flashing through the trees at the 15th annual Victoria County Relay for Life.
As the truck crests an embankment, it becomes evident this is no ordinary emergency - or fire truck for that matter.
The truck is pink, as are the suits of the firefighters; and, written all over the truck, are names, prayers and words of thanks to and from breast cancer survivors in South Texas.
The idea is a national one gone local.
In October, the Pink Heals Tour stopped in Victoria, giving a chance for area survivors and families to sign the truck.
Wendell Geigle, a Victoria firefighter, had the chance to drive the truck and knew instantly what he had to do.
Geigle did his research, made his contacts and now South Texas has its own pink fire truck for the Guardians of the Ribbons South Texas Chapter, which Geigle organized and is the president of.
Smiling, Diane Janak took a permanent marker from Geigle, walked up to the truck and wrote down, "C Me Now."
Janak, of Victoria, is a breast cancer survivor.
"As a survivor, you relive those first moments when you see the truck," said Janak, who found out she had cancer in April 2010.
Signing the truck was a form of validation for Janak - proof that she is indeed cancer-free.
"When I saw it I said, 'I'm going to sign that truck,'" Janak said.
That positive outlook is exactly what warms Geigle's heart.
"I always get energized about something," Geigle said.
Driving the truck last year for the national chapter has never left his mind.
Almost immediately after that opportunity, Geigle began looking for old fire trucks they could fix up.
Geigle ended up buying a truck from Lubbock for about $3,000.
The rest became easy once people in the community realized what the mission of the pink fire truck was.
The truck will be traveling throughout much of South Texas this year, Geigle said.
The department had already raised money to buy the paint and tools needed to fix up the truck.
In one instance, Gladwin Paint in Victoria refused to let the fire department pay for the buckets of paint.
The owner knew the paint would be part of something bigger, something that would help inspire hope for breast cancer patients, survivors and their families, Geigle said the owner told him.
"There was a lot of people who came out to help," he said.
Debbie Breeden, a two-year cancer survivor, is the administrative assistant for the fire department and was personally touched by the start of a South Texas chapter.
Her name travels with the truck - literally. The firefighters named the truck after her and wrote her name in big, bold black letters on the passenger side door.
"When they told me I was speechless," she said. "I feel like it's an honor to be able to represent people battling cancer."
Breeden is happy to be part of the Pink Heals Tour movement, but at the same time it's somewhat saddening, she said.
"It's unfortunate that there is a need for that (Pink Heals tour)," she said. "But it is fortunate there are people like our firefighters to help raise awareness."