GALION — Pink Heals is not your average non-profit fundraising organization. Originating in Glendale, Arizona, it has been a literal labor of love for founder Dave Graybill.
Graybill started Pink Heals in 2008 out of frustration with much larger organizations who are still more well-known around the nation. He was tired of seeing funds raised in the name of serious illnesses, even though only a portion of the money was actually going to those in need. Graybill decided it was up to him to affect individuals and communities.
And nearly 10 years later, he is doing just that.
Pink Heals visited Galion on Aug. 2. The visit came thanks to the efforts of resident and breast cancer survivor Heidi Perry.
See more photos from last week’s visit in our online gallery.
Perry heard about the organization through connections on Facebook, and reached out to them.
Thanks to the generosity of Sleep Inn, Graybill and his volunteer crew were given two nights lodging, free of charge. During their stay, they were able to make visits to many patients and survivors in and around the area, including a crowd of nearly 75 people who visited them at their stop in Heise Park.
After leaving Galion, Graybill and his crew of volunteers traveled to New London for a scheduled visit with other survivors, and then onto the Sandusky area after that. The volunteers travel for days or weeks at a time, leaving their families for the sake of touching the lives of others.
According to Graybill, there is always a need for drivers to keep their trucks rolling.
Most people, upon seeing the Pink Heals pink firetrucks, assume the major focus of the operation is breast cancer patients, but that could not be further from their mission.
“We have visited all kinds of cancer patients, those suffering from PTSD, Cystic Fibrosis, Spina Bifida, and battered women,” Graybill said. “Our message is simple. We just want people to know they are loved.”
He said that message is always well-received.
His mission started slowly, and his organization was much smaller.
Upon leaving his job as a fireman, Graybill had a donated firetruck painted pink and drove it across the country to spread the message of his cause. A second truck was added in 2009 and the following years have seen their vehicle count grow to just over 200. At their current growth rate, Pink Heals is on target to become the world’s largest public safety organization.
But Graybill is the first to acknowledge he could not do this alone. After starting with just a handful of volunteers, there are now 62 Pink Heals Chapters nationwide. All money raised by each chapter stays within that community, county, or state, and those chapters have no affiliations. Each one is completely self-funded.
The next decision ahead of Graybill is the idea of growth into sponsor ships.
He said it seems necessary at this point in order to keep the momentum of Pink Heals going in the right direction, but it is a tricky concept.
“Involving sponsors allows them to have a say in the work we are doing. Its very important to me that we don’t lose focus on the basics of our message,” he said, which is what the Galion, and other visits focus on, and that is touching the lives of those needing it most.