The event was part of the firefighters' Cancer Awareness and Relief Effort (CARE), which was started five years ago when one of their wives was diagnosed with the disease.
Steve Countryman, captain at Station 5 and organizer of the event, said the department designed and began to sell pink T-shirts to show support for Tonya and Wes Malcolm.
Countryman said everyone joined in wearing pink shirts on their shift as a show of support.
“People might have hesitated a little bit, but that first year everybody did it because it's like an extended family, all the firefighters, and we knew that guy was really struggling,” he said. “We wanted to show support for them. Everybody wore shirts that year.”
After Tonya lost her battle, the department decided to hold an event in her honor, and has done so every year since, Countryman said.
Firefighters from all stations spend much of October organizing events aimed at raising money to fight the disease or to help those who suffer from it.
“All the funds we raise from the shirts, we donate back to the Tyler Susan G. Komen race, American Cancer Society and then we have a fund for firefighters who have cancer, so all of it stays local,” Countryman said.
Logan Luttrell, a firefighter with Station 10, took photos with participants clad in a complete pink fire suit and helmet.
“I've gotten used to it at this point,” he said. “I do the combat challenge, and I run in the Susan G Komen in it. It has become kind of my (niche).”
Robin Hunt, a breast cancer survivor of almost two years, said it was uplifting to see the community support.
“I like seeing men in pink,” Mrs. Hunt said. “It means a lot to us …We appreciate the support of the community.”
Mrs. Hunt was in the crowd with other survivors in the ETMC Breast and Women's Cancer Support Group, including Linda Ruskcamp, who was a church acquaintance but became a friend through their battles with the disease.
Mrs. Ruskcamp said that when she was diagnosed, a teacher friend of hers helped her through the process, telling her what to expect and connecting her to a doctor.
It was knowledge she then passed on to her new friend.
“I didn't know her at church, but I noticed all of a sudden she would show up at the church with a scarf on, so I knew what she was going through, but we didn't know each other,” Mrs. Hunt said. “She was the one that reached out to me when she found out I was diagnosed.”
Mayor Barbara Bass, a breast cancer survivor of almost five years, told the crowd a cancer diagnosis is difficult to bear, but not to put life on hold because of it.
“Anytime you are dealing with medical issues it's just another appointment on the calendar,” she said. “Don't let it take over your thoughts. Go on with what you are doing, you deal with it within the course of a day and keep moving.”
Jennifer Kielman, a survivor of almost two years, shared a little about her battle and the seven things that you can learn from cancer, including the perks of having no hair.
Countryman said this is one of many events going on through October to raise funds. He said the cause will receive a portion of funds from the Brookshire's Tyler Firefighter Combat Challenge, slated for this weekend, and will host a golf tournament at Hollytree Country Club on Monday.
Pink t-shirts also will remain on sale at the fire stations through the month.
With 2,000 shirts sold thus far, Countryman said he hopes to raise as much money as possible to help an additional four firefighter families who were diagnosed with the disease.