The line of fire trucks rolling through Vinton sirens blaring shortly after 2 p.m. on Saturday was not an emergency, but a mission of hope and love that is part of a nationwide effort to bring comfort, encouragement and hope to those experiencing difficult illnesses.
The bubble-gum colored fire truck from the Sauk Valley Chapter of Pink Heals spent a few hours in Vinton, as volunteers Brian and Elizabeth Tribley greeted survivors of cancer and other diseases, with hugs, words of encouragement and a permanent marker.
Several area residents added their signatures to the countless thousands on the pink fire truck. Many of them are cancer survivors, but the truck and the Pink Heals program is designed to recognize those who are facing, or have faced any illness.
Before the session in the parking lot of the Vinton fire station, the Tribleys, accompanied by several members of the Vinton Fire Department, rolled out to Dell Hanson’s house in rural Vinton. The Tribleys presented Dell a gift basket, and he took his turn signing the truck. Dell, a former state representative, is facing lung cancer.
The pink truck then parked outside the fire station, where many people stopped by. Each person who signed the truck received a hug from Brian, and a chance to briefly tell their story.
“We are here to love you, to support you,” Brian told them.
Many also signed the truck in honor of loved ones facing illness, or in memory of loved ones who have died of cancer or other diseases.
After the last of the visitors had signed the truck, it was time for another mission of mercy.
Accompanied by three Vinton fire trucks and one vehicle from the Vinton Police Department, the pink truck rolled up to the residence of two-time cancer survivor Dawn Yenser. The Tribleys greeted Dawn with a basket of flowers, and more hugs, along with several members of the VFD. Dawn, and her husband Doug, who is also a cancer survivor, each took a turn signing the truck. And as with the rest of the survivors who signed the truck, there were plenty of photos of the Dawn, Doug and their family with the Tribleys and the other firefighters.
Later, another family who had heard the sirens followed the trucks back to the fire station, where another survivor signed her name to the truck.
About a 2 1/2 hour drive from Sauk Valley, Vinton is the farthest distance the Tribleys have driven. See more about the Sauk Valley chapter HERE. While the Tribleys have been involved in Pink Heals for four years, the Sauk Valley chapter is just about one year old.
Vinton firefighter Dennis Bramow organized the event, after learning about Pink Heals on Facebook. While no specific date for a return has been set, local firefighters have already begun discussing with the Tribleys the possibility of bringing the pink truck back sometime in the future.
Dennis said he organized the event in part to honor his wife, Diana, a cancer survivor. Diana was the first to sign the truck when it arrived in Vinton.
“I tried to keep it a secret from her, but in a small town, that’s hard,” Dennis says.
See more photos of the Vinton visit HERE.
About Pink Heals
Pink Heals, Inc. includes just under 50 chapters in several states throughout the U.S. Each chapter uses some type of pink-colored emergency vehicle (engine truck, ladder truck, police car, etc.) to travel to places where Pink Heals is invited. The drivers are all volunteers, and the program is funded through donations as well as the sale of t-shirts, sweatshirts and other items.
Pink Heals marked its 10th anniversary this year. Dave Graybill of Pheonix, Ariz., founded the organization in 2007.