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This pink firetruck makes house calls for charity

Old Marion firetruck donated and painted pink for Pink Heals

Engine 91, donated to the Iowa chapter of Pink Heals by the Marion Fire Department and repainted pink. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Bramow)
Engine 91, donated to the Iowa chapter of Pink Heals by the Marion Fire Department and repainted pink. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Bramow)

Don’t be confused if you see a pink firetruck rolling through the streets of Marion and Cedar Rapids.

The truck, donated by the Marion Fire Department, belongs to the local chapter of Pink Heals, a national charity that provides support to cancer patients and their families. On Saturday, the national Pink Heals organization, as part of a nationwide tour, will stop in Marion and Cedar Rapids to dedicate the pink fire truck, the first of its kind in Iowa.

The local Pink Heals chapter plans to use the freshly painted truck to provide home visits to patients and other seriously ill people. Local chapters partner with local businesses to provide recipients with donated goods, gift cards and helpful services.

The national organization has received more than 200 firetrucks, squad cars and other vehicles that are then painted the charity’s signature color, according to the group. And just like all the charity’s vehicles, community members will be able to add their own signatures to the new truck in Marion.

Engine 91 — the firetruck donated by the Marion Fire Department — was built in 1989. The Marion Fire Department replaced it in 2015 but had no luck trying to sell it through online auction sites.

Marion Fire Chief Deb Krebill was approached by Dennis and Diana Bramow, founders of the Iowa chapter of Pink Heals, who asked if she would donate the truck to the charity.

Diana Bramow was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2014. Last year she was visited by members of an Illinois chapter of Pink Heals and became the first to sign that firetruck.

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After that, the Bramows decided to give back to the community that helped them in their time of need. With the help of other volunteers, they have been running Iowa’s first Pink Heals chapter since March.

The Bramows learned of Engine 91 from their future son-in-law, Tyler Hackbarth, who is a member of the Marion Fire Department.

“They came to me and asked if I would be willing to donate or sell it for a very low cost,” Krebill said.

Pink Heals vehicles are often donated by law enforcement and public safety organizations. The Iowa chapter’s other vehicle is a pink squad car, gifted to the Bramows by a Pink Heals chapter in Rhode Island that was no longer using it.

Krebill approached the Marion City Council in May for permission to donate the engine, which they gave.

Engine 91 was donated as is, with some rust spots and other damage. Diana Bramow reached out to Thompson Truck and Trailer in Cedar Rapids to repair and repaint the engine, which they did for free.

The firetruck is a new color, but Engine 91 remains emblazoned on the cab doors.

The ceremony dedicating the firetruck will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Marion Fire Station No. 2, 3933 Katz Drive.

Another stop is scheduled in Vinton on Friday, and the Iowa Pink Heals vehicles also will be in Cedar Rapids during the first part of the day on Saturday.

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Fourth Street between First and Second avenues in Vinton will be closed on Friday for the Pink Heals stop, where vehicles will be on display from 4 to 7 p.m. in front of the Benton County Courthouse at 111 E Fourth St.

The tour includes home visits but the goal is also to get out the word about the work done by Pink Heals. T-shirts sold at tour stops also help pay for fuel and vehicle maintenance.

Anyone is welcome to visit the vehicles and add their signature. For more information on the events and what to expect, go to the Pink Heals Iowa chapter Facebook page or visit pinkfiretrucks.org.

l Comments: (319) 368-8514; molly.hunter@thegazette.com

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