Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women in the United States, second only to skin cancers. It makes up about 30 percent of all new female cancers each year. According to the American Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF), one in eight women will be affected by breast cancer within their lifetime. ABCF estimates about 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2022.
To help raise awareness for the disease, many people will partake in walks, crowdfunding, or raise awareness by wearing pink. However, Asst. Fire Chief Brian Wenning with the Greensburg Fire Department had a different idea: one that would cause people all over the county to stop and take photos.
“Why not have an entire firetruck wrapped in pink to remind people of this devastating disease every time they see it?” Wenning said.
That’s exactly what the team at the Greensburg Fire Department did. Wenning, a 30-year employee of the department, spends his days at the fire station and updating furniture and other items at his local upholstery business. This made the project a little easier for him as he had the knowledge and some of the tools necessary to complete the project. Since the truck would cost a lot of money, and the fire department couldn’t cover the entire cost, he turned to the community. The community responded by donating enough money to cover most of the truck in less than one day.
However, even though he had the trade of upholstery on his side, the bright pink truck was still just a little out of his budget. So Wenning decided to go to the place where care in the community is provided: Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH). When he proposed the idea to leaders there, they donated a third of the cost.
“Our hospital team focuses on connecting with our community to promote health and wellness,” says DCMH CEO Rex McKinney. “The partnership we’ve established with the fire department on this year’s pink firetruck project has brought valuable attention to the issue of breast cancer awareness and the importance of medical screening exams. Along with great support from our hospital foundation, we remain committed to ensuring all individuals in our community have access to critical health care screening services and diagnostic tools.”
Along with DCMH, Napoleon State Bank and Shirks International also were sponsors. Wenning attributes these sponsorships to his wife and her ever-giving heart that has now given back to this important cause. He lost his wife, Patti, to breast cancer in 2018.
“She was full of energy and life,” Wenning said. “She walked into the room, and the room lit up. Patti never knew a stranger.”
Wenning said if Patti were here today, she would be in awe of how the community rallied together to support this great cause to find a cure. He also says she would laugh and smile at him (lovingly) for everything he has done in her honor to remind the community of their health—and it’s working! Wenning says he has seen multiple women drive by, hop out of their cars, and take a quick photo in front of it.
“This truck inspires people to prioritize their health,” Wenning said. “It reminds people of their loved ones, and they are not forgotten.”