Firefighters in Denton are no longer selling pink shirts for breast cancer awareness. They are going all orange.
Hank Morrow, who has been with the Denton Fire Department for nearly 16 years, said the department decided to change it up a bit last year.
“We are still supporting cancer awareness, but for something closer to home,” Morrow said.
Orange shirts now on sale at the Central Fire Station, 332 E. Hickory St., represent the Orange Out Foundation. The faith-based nonprofit organization based in Justin helps children struggling with cancer, he said.
Shirts are on sale from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and are available in a range of sizes for children and adults, fire officials said. Shirts cost $15 for one or $25 for two.
In August 2010, a little girl named Chloe Brown was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia for a second time. Her older sister, Bailey Brown, didn’t know what to do, but she wanted to help, according to the foundation’s website, www.orangeout.org.
“The girl went to the same school my wife taught at, and the cause came close to me quickly,” Morrow said.
Bailey Brown and a group of her friends decided a few years ago that on Fridays they would all wear orange — the color of the leukemia ribbon. Word started to spread and plans were made for the first official Orange Out event.
“Northwest Independent School District now has various schools that participate in the weekly lunches,” Morrow said.
Morrow wanted to be on the cutting edge and feels that while the Susan G. Komen Foundation is a worthy cause, many departments nationwide already support it during the month of October.
The Orange Out Foundation, he said, is local and supports many families that require assistance while their child battles cancer. Morrow said that since Gov. Rick Perry declared September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, now is a better time than ever to show one’s support.
“The board members are all volunteers, and proceeds really benefit the child in need,” he said. “They visit Cook Children’s [Medical Center] in Fort Worth every Wednesday.”
Morrow said the department was able to sell nearly $7,000 worth of shirts in its first year and is hoping to do even better this year. After the cost of the shirts was deducted, a check was written for at least $1,500 for the Orange Out Foundation, as well as a $1,500 check written to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.
“We are splitting them [the proceeds] again this year,” he said.
Morrow said that many people within the department either face cancer themselves or have loved ones battling some form of the disease.
Last year, longtime Denton firefighter Michael Bell died after a struggle with gliosarcoma — a rare form of brain cancer. Just one month before Bell’s passing, more than 83 people committed to shaving their heads during an event at the Central Station to support their colleague. Organizers said the fundraiser brought in $4,300.
“We can’t forget our brothers,” Morrow said.
If someone is interested in a shirt and can’t make it during the times the shirts are available for sale, call the Central Fire Station at 940-349-8840.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.