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Two local fire departments hope donning a slightly lighter hue of its traditional fire-engine red this month will help save the lives of local women.
Firefighters with the Burton and the Lady's Island-St. Helena fire districts will be wearing pink T-shirts in October for national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an event founded 27 years ago to urge women to get annual mammograms.
The firefighters paid for the shirts themselves, and the shirts will be sold in limited quantities to firefighters and their families, department officials said.
John Perry, a Burton firefighter who spearheaded the department's effort, said the shirts could be an effective way to encourage women to protect themselves against the disease.
"Firefighters like to help others, and we can't think of a better cause ... than breast cancer awareness," Perry said. "On our duty shirts, we've always had a memorial patch on the sleeve honoring a fallen firefighter or New York City or the Charleston 9, and this month, we're wearing the pink breast cancer ribbon."
Lee Levesque, spokesman for the Lady's Island-St. Helena Fire District, said the firefighters are proud to honor local cancer survivors by wearing the shirts.
"Every single firefighter who steps onto one of our trucks will be wearing those shirts from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31," Levesque said. "Cancer affects almost everybody ... and this was a small gesture that we could do to bring awareness to this horrible disease."
Burton kicked off its awareness campaign Tuesday by donating one of the shirts to Theresa Manning, a 50-year-old Beaufort resident and breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed with the disease in 2009.
"I was very touched when I found out they were going to do this," Manning said, as her eyes welled with tears. "One out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It's a very hard journey. Early detection and awareness is very important, and I definitely think this is going to make people aware to urge their loved ones to get their mammograms."
The local firefighters are joined in their efforts this month by other departments across the country, as well as players, referees and coaches in the National Football League, who are sporting pink hats, cleats, gloves and wristbands to show their support. Also joining the effort are district judges from Corpus Christi, Texas, who opted to don pink robes this month.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.