Pink charity shirts spark interest

MARIETTA – When the firefighters of the Marietta Fire Department decided to wear pink shirts throughout October, the goal was to raise awareness about breast cancer-a disease which has personally impacted many of the men’s loved ones.

But the shirts garnered so much attention that the men decided even more could be done.

The Marietta Fire Department presented a check to the Marietta Memorial Hospital Strecker Cancer Center Friday for $1,300. The money was raised by selling the pink T-shirts, which feature a fire hose forming a ribbon, the department name and union number, and the words “Hope” and “Strength.”

“I had no intention of selling the tees at first,” said Marietta Fire Lt. Larry Bargeloh, who led the push to get the department to wear pink in honor of his wife Betty, a breast cancer survivor.

However, the pink T-shirts sparked an interest that Bargeloh and the department had not anticipated.

“After a week of wearing the shirts on duty, we had so many nurses and family members asking for tees that we decided to go ahead and throw a quick order together,” he said.

Though it was late into Breast Cancer Awareness Month when the department decided to sell the shirts, they were able to sell nearly 200 shirts at $15 each.

Ginny Olff, a licensed social worker for the Strecker Cancer Center, said that $1,300 will be put into the Strecker Cancer Center’s emergency fund and will be a great benefit to patients who need financial assistance while going through treatment.

“What people don’t realize is that insurance may pay for someone’s treatment, but there are a lot of extra costs that don’t get paid for. If people are stressed about expenses and financial needs then that is going to harm them emotionally with their recovery,” she said.

The emergency fund goes toward such things as gas cards for patients, many of whom drive quite a distance for radiation treatment. It can also help cover prescription costs, utility bills, or any other needs that patients bring up, said Olff.

Many of the shirts sold went to hospital staff employees and friends and family of the firefighters. However, Bargeloh said he thinks there is room to expand the shirt sales next year, as many citizens expressed an interest in them.

“I even had a family member (of a patient) come up to me during a squad run and say how much she liked the shirts and appreciated what we were doing,” he said.