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Firing Up The Music

By Maddie Heid tor The Island Eye News

The Hollings Cancer Center and Isle of Palms Professional Firefighters Association come together in the fight against cancer at The Windjammer on Oct. 25.
(Photo by Julie Nestler)

The night was filled with raffle prizes, live music, and residents from all over came together to raise funds in a fight for a special cause. On Oct. 25, the Hollings Cancer Center and the Isle of Palms Professional Firefighters Association fought cancer at The Windjammer. The event was to bring in money for cancer research and raise awareness that cancer is one of the leading causes of death for firefighters. “Fires are burning hotter, faster, and releasing more toxic gases now than ever before,” stated William J Pesature, vice President of Professional Fire Fighters Association of South Carolina. “The gases stick to your clothing and get into your skin.” Firefighters have some of the leading numbers in prostate, testicular, and skin cancer. But, unfortunately, due to a lack of research and resources, awareness about this growing issue only started about 20 years ago. “If we were able to raise the money and have enough firefighters who have had cancer volunteer themselves for research, we could finally get to the bottom of this,” Pesature stated. Luckily, South Carolina has finally passed a bill that aims to help South Carolina Fighter fighters in the battle against cancer. It’s the best coverage bill yet. The Firefighter Cancer Healthcare Benefit Plan was signed into law on Sept. 28, 2020. The bill provides enhanced healthcare coverage if one is diagnosed with cancer. Anyone diagnosed ten years of the last date of active service is eligible to receive benefits when diagnosed. 

This is one of the first steps in helping firefighters get the coverage and help they need, “We know how we get it. We just want to know how to prevent it,” Pesature stated. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the event go towards cancer research at the Hollings Cancer Center. 

Hollings is the only national cancer institute in South Carolina and ranked number 39 out of 71 cancer institutes in the nation. Along with the Windjammer event, on November 6, Isle of Palms Fire Fighters will suite up to participate in the LOWVELO Bike ride. “We will have 18 of our Firefighters participating in the event, riding over 22 miles,” said Pete Gray, a firefighter at the Isle of Palms for over eight years. “We have volunteer firefighters coming in to cover our shifts that day so we could do this.” 

“I’m hoping to have them suit up in their uniforms at the last rest stop,” stated Shannon R. Rice, Stewardship and Internal Rider Recruiter at Hollings Cancer. “I think this will be a compelling image and bring more awareness to firefighters being more susceptible to cancer.”

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