Nevada County — and The Union — is gearing up for the sixth annual Paint the Town Pink, an evening of food and fun that has raised more than $75,000 for breast cancer detection care.
But this year, there will be a new twist. A group of firefighters in the community has put together a calendar to help boost the funds being raised for the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The calendar features a number of Grass Valley and Nevada County Consolidated fire departments’ finest, all tastefully posed in pink T-shirts and pink helmets.
The 12 firefighters will be on hand at Paint the Town Pink Oct. 25 and will available for photos and autographs, promised The Union’s event manager, Mary Anne Davis.
“They will have security at their booth,” Davis joked. “ We don’t want to start a riot.”
The calendar was the brainchild of Grass Valley Firefighter Christopher Armstrong — Mr. November in the calendar, according to Davis.
His first fundraising effort for Paint the Town Pink actually occurred last year, when he and fellow photographer Randy Jackson took portraits of people attending the event and sold them.
“I have a friend/mentor from Denver who owns a business back there,” Armstrong explained. “She was doing a speaking engagement and really stressed being involved in community.”
Armstrong’s initial foray into fundraising at Paint the Town Pink was not as profitable as he had hoped.
“I had some pretty lofty goals. I wanted to make it as incredible as possible,” he said. “In my opinion, we didn’t succeed. I think we raised about $300 to $400.”
For this year, Armstrong said he initially toyed with the idea of painting a fire engine pink but landed on the calendar fundraiser, which he said has been done across the country to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Armstrong and Jackson tied in with several local businesses, who bought ad space to
help cover the start-up costs, including the printing and the T-shirts.
Armstrong said the firefighters he approached were overwhelmingly supportive, although he acknowledged some were a little worried about potential ribbing from colleagues.
The calendar ended up featuring firefighters Nathan Menth, Phillip Nunnink, and Zach Witter, engineers Dean Weathers, Lance McKinley and Patrick Mason, and captains Josh Sunde and Kevin Menet from Nevada County Consolidated; Grass Valley is represented by Battalion Chief Mark Buttron, Armstrong and fellow firefighter Chris Gregory.
Placer Hills Fire Protection District engineer Matt McCarthy rounds out the roster.
“It was no big deal,” Menth said. “It’s all related to the bigger picture and the cause; it will
stem back to helping out the foundation and doing our part as firefighters in the community … If it shows support, we’ll do it.”
Armstrong said he was particularly touched when, during a photo session at Station 84, a probationary hire approached him to tell him that his mother had died last year from
breast cancer and that he thought the calendar was an amazing idea.
“It’s a lot closer to you then you realize in your day-to-day life,” he said.
Armstrong said his eventual goal is to produce the calendar “year in and year out,” helping the foundation raise $10,000 a year.
“That would be a pretty awesome feat,” he said.
Armstrong gave credit to Grass Valley’s city and fire department administrators for their support.
“None of the administrative people had any fear. They were 100 percent behind this,” he said.
“Starting Sunday, our guys have been authorized for a week to wear pink T-shirts for their duty T-shirts. And people going in and out of city hall may see city staff and council members in the T-shirts as well.
“The city has taken this cause on and grasped it with enthusiasm. It’s really cool to know they’re behind it so much.”
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.
“It’s all related to the bigger picture and the cause; it will stem back to helping out the foundation and doing our part as firefighters in the community … If it shows support, we’ll do it.”
— Nathan Menth, firefighter