Fire fighters and community members clad in pink t-shirts gathered Saturday to raise awareness for breast cancer with their annual 5,000-meter race.
Participants run a 5k race in exchange for support and donations toward cancer patients’ costs at the San Marcos Professional Firefighters Association’s Pink Heals event.
Among Saturday’s participants was cancer survivor Lisa Tobias, who walked in honor of her battle and in memory of the estimated 39,510 women who die each year in the United States from a form of the disease.
Tobias, Texas State School of Social Work administrative assistant, was diagnosed in 2007 with breast cancer. She said by participating in the race she has been able to speak with other participants about the importance of yearly mammograms.
“I get to talk to a lot of women here about having mammograms done,” she said. “A lot of women don’t get it done. I just try to spread the word and make sure they go get them done.”
Tobias’ decision to be an advocate is reflected in the San Marcos Professional Firefighters Association’s choice to fight back against the devastating disease.
“The movement was brought to San Marcos in 2009,” said Kathleen Chomel, chairperson for the San Marcos Pink Heals event,. “We’ve had it every year since and donate all of our proceeds to the emergency cancer fund through the Central Texas Medical Center’s Foundation.”
Dave Graybill, former major league and Olympic baseball player, founded the organization in Arizona.
Graybill ended his professional baseball career in 1990 after playing for the Montreal Expos and Los Angeles Angels to instead work as a firefighter in Glendale, California. He then went on to start the Pink Heals organization in 2007 and has since toured across the country, encouraging others to participate in his cause.
“The fact that firefighters in Arizona created this movement is what encouraged and inspired the Professional Fire Fighter’s association in San Marcos to take part,” Chomel said. “They also saw it as a great way to help those in need.”
All of the proceeds go to women and families in Hays County to help assist with different medical costs and treatments.
“One of the main goals this organization has is to change as many lives we can with all of the money we’ve raised,” Graybill said. “Women are the most selfless individuals in the world, and I want Pink Heals to help eliminate all of the problems they don’t deserve to face.”
Graybill prides himself on the fact all of Pink Heals’ proceeds go directly to the families in need.
“I’m so tired of hearing about different organizations that make so much money from donors but only spend a small portion on those who are sick and need the resources,” Graybill said. “Pink Heals is based solely off of love and we make sure to give all we have to those we can help.”