Group to start cancer fundraising tour in Victoria

Wendell Geigle, left, lifts the ribbon while Pat Stuart signals to John Yusko to back up as they work together to load the official Pink Heals ribbon onto its newly refurbished trailer in Victoria. The ribbon weighs 4,000 pounds and has traveled approximately 25,000 miles over seven years. When it has traveled one million miles, Pink Heals would like to donate it to a hospital or organization that has helped a lot in the fight against cancer.
  • GO PINK

  • • WHAT: Fundraiser

    • WHEN: 7-9 p.m. Saturday

    • WHERE: Chick-fil-A, 6104 N. Navarro St., Victoria

    The Pink Heals Firefighters are selling T-shirts to help fund their 2013 tour. Money raised from the sale will put gas in their trucks.

Pink.

It's a color often associated with a specific cause. But, for some firefighters, it's a word that defines the women in their communities.

The Guardians of the Ribbon Inc. will embark on a five-month tour teaching neighborhoods across America how to raise money in their communities for their communities.

For the first time, the tour's send-off will start in Victoria. The pink fire trucks will stop Saturday at the Chick-fil-A on North Navarro Street, seeking community support to help launch the tour.

The tour will visit 130 cities.

Dave Graybill, founder of the tour, said he chose Victoria because it is a city that understands his message.

"There's a lot of love in Victoria," he said, and that love is what the Pink Heals movement is all about.

While the tour is all about the color pink - it even tows a two-ton stainless steel ribbon - it's not really about cancer.

"We have decided that we are targeting people, not disease," Graybill said. "Although our main focus is the fight against cancer, we are here to serve those in need."

Graybill said his focus is to inspire people to stop raising money for organizations, where they don't see the end results, and instead, to keep the money local.

"Stop with the causes," he said. "Let's support people."

Victoria firefighter Wendell Geigle said he immediately caught on to the Pink Heals movement when the tour made a stop in Victoria.

"I tried to offer Dave some money because I liked what the tour was doing," he said. "Dave told me, 'You're not listening to what I'm saying. If you want to help, get a truck and paint it pink. Get involved in your community.'"

That was October 2010.

By Thanksgiving that year, he had already purchased a fire truck to paint pink, and in December he had created an area organization.

"We have a big issue with corporate charities coming in, raising money, and the volunteers never see where the money goes," he said. "They don't see the end results. Don't let that money leave your community."

Geigle created a community panel in early 2012 after receiving a donation from the Victoria East High School cheerleading squad.

"We couldn't fail those girls," Geigle said.

He wanted to make sure that 100 percent of its donation went right back into the hands of Victoria residents.

Since then, the Pink Heals Immediate Care Fund has given back more than $13,000 to the community.

Board member Bob Constantine said his goal this year is to have the community raise $45,000 for the care fund.

"We have a lot of foot soldiers this year," he said. "It's up to us as men of the community to help the women of our community."

Graybill said Victoria's growth proves that the movement is working. As long as the community keeps helping people, he said, it works.

This year is the seventh year that Graybill has toured for Pink Heals, and he said he's ready to give it to the community.

"It's not mine to own. You can't own love," he said. "This isn't about the firemen or the pink truck - it's about the community."