BRISTOL - As if saving people from burning buildings wasnâ€™t enough, local firefighters have found another way to save lives in the community.
Firefighters on Thursday gave a $4,300 check to Bristol Hospitalâ€™s Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness. The money was raised by selling pink and navy t-shirts at the Farmerâ€™s Market in October, and will help get women who are uninsured or underinsured free mammograms.
â€śSaving lives is just what you do, and here you are doing it again,â€ť Dr. James Sayre, medical director at Beekley, told nearly a dozen members of the Bristol Firefighters IAFF Local 773 Thursday.
â€śYouâ€™ve got to feel really good about that,â€ť he continued. â€śYour money will go to a wonderful purpose.â€ť
Sayre estimated that the money firefighters raised will allow Beekley to provide about 40 free mammograms to those who couldnâ€™t otherwise afford it.
â€śI didnâ€™t realize it was than many,â€ť said Firefighter ChrisÂ Hayden, who organizes the shirt sales each year. â€śThatâ€™s awesome.â€ť
Hayden said he had 300 t-shirts hot off of the printing press to sell at the Farmerâ€™s Market last month. He sold each and every one of them and needed to order more for those who showed up looking for a shirt to support the fight against breast cancer.
â€śPeople ask us months in advance when weâ€™re selling these shirts,â€ť said Wesley Hoyt, vice president of the Local 773.
â€śItâ€™s unbelievable,â€ť Hayden added. â€śThe community is just unbelievable. Itâ€™s crazy how many people love these shirts.â€ť
According to Sayre, no woman is turned down from getting a mammogram at the Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness because she canâ€™t afford it. The difficult part is spreading the word and getting all women to come in for the screenings.
â€śItâ€™s as simple as coming in and asking for one,â€ť Sayre said.
JeannieÂ Robbins, clinical service line director at Beekley, told firefighters on Thursday that theyâ€™re a â€śwonderful partner in the community.â€ť
â€śThis money is so valuable to all the women in our community,â€ť she said.
Hayden said his favorite part of organizing the fundraiser is presenting the check to the Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness, but he also loves hearing from those who buy the shirts.
â€śHearing all the survivorsâ€™ stories is awesome,â€ť he said.
Through the t-shirt fundraiser, local firefighters since 2012 have raised more than $26,000 that has gone toward fighting breast cancer. Hayden, whose aunt is a two-time breast cancer survivor, took the reins in starting the effort as fire unions around the country began to jump on board and raise money and awareness for the disease.
Max Corvo, secretary of the Local 773, said firefighters couldnâ€™t do what they do without support from the people of Bristol.
â€śWeâ€™re happy to reflect Bristolâ€™s generosity,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s about the community. The generosity is overwhelming.â€ť
â€śBeing visible and selling pink t-shirts is the easy part. Those are the heroes,â€ť Corvo said of the doctors, nurses and staff at Beekley.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.