KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Firefighters spend their lives taking care of their community by putting out fires, saving lives and more.
Thursday afternoon, Rural Metro and Knoxville firefighters showed how much they care about their own as well, by donating five years-worth of T-shirt money to two of their wives.
Mike Robinson, a captain with Rural Metro, started making breast cancer awareness shirts and selling them to his own crews about 10 years ago.
He said he started the first-responder only fundraiser after hearing about how one of his crew member’s wife was struggling with the disease.
“All the proceeds that I have collected from all the firemen, dispatchers and EMS that purchased these shirts goes to a local family,” Robinson said.
The first five years worth of T-shirt money went to two other families struggling with breast cancer.
The last five years-worth of T-shirt money went to the Jordans and Asburys.
KFD firefighter Josh Jordan’s wife, Ashley Jordan, and Rural Metro firefighter James Asbury’s wife, Terra Asbury, both found out they had breast cancer on the same day this past September.
The wives didn’t know each other had the disease until a few weeks later.
“It’s been important for me to have Terra to go through this with, because she understands. When I call her crying, she understands what I’m going through, because she’s either going through it at the same time or she has experienced it already,” Jordan said.
Neither women knew though, that they also had all of the firefighters looking out for them too.
“My husband tried to buy one and they said, ‘we only have larges left,’ so we had no idea that this was going on,” Asbury said.
“Just to see the two fire departments coming together even though they don’t work together every day, they’re still showing love for all of us,” Jordan said.
Robinson makes a new T-shirt design every few years. Crews are only allowed to wear them underneath their uniforms during the month of October.
Robinson said he doesn’t know how many shirts he’s sold, but he knows that number is in the hundreds.
“You look across the yard and everybody’s wearing the pink to, you know, keep up with that awareness and I think it’s special,” Robinson said.
He said it’s important to show all first responders that they are all family and they will be treated as such, especially when they are in need.
He said he hopes the shirts remind everyone of the fight against cancer.
“When everybody sees pink, I want them to know that’s what it means. They need to be aware of this terrible disease,” Robinson said.
Both Asbury and Jordan also had a message of awareness.
“If you’re not 40 like us, it’s kind of hard to get into a doctor to make sure that you have a mammogram. Most insurances won’t pay for it, so it’s important to do your monthly self breast exams. And if you find anything, do not put it off. Make sure that you get checked out,” Jordan said.
“Sometimes it moves quickly and you don’t know that you have it going on, and it can spread very fast. So, anytime you feel anything (that’s different) get yourself checked,” Asbury said.
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