PUNXSUTAWNEY — A visit by representatives of the Pink Heals Slate Belt Chapter to Punxsutawney in October left a lasting impression with a local firefighter, and sent him into action.
Matt Strouse, a member of the Lindsey Fire Department in Punxsutawney helped organize the visit by representatives of the Slate Belt Chapter. The chapter brought their pink truck “Jackie” to visit Lyndsay Fox and Brayden Wyant, who were both battling cancer.
Strouse was touched by the dedication the chapter evidenced by traveling so far for the children. The Slate Belt Chapter came because they are the closest chapter to the western side of Pennsylvania. During the visit, Strouse already had begun thinking of starting his own chapter.
“Before the guys (from Slate Belt) left for the weekend it was decided we were going to start one, and two weeks (later) we had the chapter established,” Strouse said.
Most of the Pink Heals chapters are directly associated with a fire department, but the Punxsutawney Chapter is not.
“Our chapter is not attached to a fire company,” Strouse said. “We are our own separate entity. Ninety percent of the members are firemen, EMTs, and their families that volunteer around Punxsy, but we don’t just accept first responders.”
Strouse said the organization will accept members from anywhere, not just Punxsutawney. They will also travel widely to make visits if people ask them to.
“This chapter is not just Punxsutawney, this is Western Pennsylvania. So, if somebody in DuBois wants a home visit, we’ll do a home visit. If somebody wants us to go to Clearfield, if somebody wants us in Ohio, we’ll go. We will jump through hoops to get there,” Strouse said.
He also said the group might make visits with the Slate Belt Chapter anytime there are calls between the two chapters. Strouse said he has the Slate Belt Chapter to thank for the immediate interest he had from the community when he started his chapter.
There are about 15 members in the group already. The group meets at the Lindsey Fire Company on the first Sunday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Those interested are welcome to attend the next meeting Feb. 2.
To learn more about Pink Heals visit pinkfiretrucks.org.