Victoria Fire Department deputy chief Dan Atkinson speaks to a crowd of 400 people at last year’s Gala For Hope. (Photo submitted by Jeff Cullen)

Victoria Fire Department battles cancer with Gala For Hope

Catered event takes place on June 15 at Carson Hall

Donning a heavy coat, flame resistant pants, a balaclava and a self contained breathing apparatus, Jeff Cullen, of the Victoria Fire Department, says it can get really warm. These are a few of the precautions firefighters can take to protect from the heat but also from the unseen force that has taken the lives of many in the field — cancer.

Firefighters have a nine per cent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population according to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.

Cullen says it’s something that weighs heavy on the minds of many of his friends and colleagues he works with.

“I think there’s a very strong underlying understanding of how unfortunately common cancer can be for us,” he says.

READ ALSO: Victoria Fire Department advises cigarette safety after two fires started in one week

In the past couple years alone the Victoria Fire Department has lost a number of people to the disease; former chief Richard Couch and Doug Angrove along with firefighter, Stan Thame are a few names that bring the illness home for Cullen.

“It’s hard not to think about it at the back of your mind but I think the important thing is you’ve got to try to do everything you can throughout your career to limit those exposures. Albeit, it seems like a lot of them are inevitable, you do fear it.”

Washing off the cancer-causing pathogens is one way of mitigating risk, another is the Gala For Hope, an annual fundraiser put on by the Victoria Fire Department in support of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

The gala is in its second year and has already raised almost a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research and patient care.

READ ALSO: Victoria Fire Department hosts ride for World Cancer Day

This year’s event will take place on June 15 at Carson Hall. The formal fundraiser consists of a three-course meal catered by the Fairmont Empress Hotel, a live and silent auction, a live band and two key note speeches from Steve Letourneau, Vancouver Fire Captain, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and Mena Westhaver.

“Our keynote speakers are genuinely amazing,” says Cullen. “You’re going to get some great, in-depth, honest speeches from people that speak to the severity and impact of this illness.”

The Gala For Hope is the main fundraiser the Victoria Fire Department takes on before heading to the Ride to Conquer Cancer that happens on the Lower Mainland in August. The name takes on a special meaning as the 200 km ride ends in the community of Hope.

“Our coworkers, our chiefs, our friends, our family — it’s just had such an incredibly negative impact on our fire department in previous years and I just think it’s our duty to try and step up and make a difference,” says Cullen.

For more information on the gala or to purchase tickets visit www.eventbrite.ca.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Last years Victoria Fire Department cycling team took on the 200km Ride to Conquer Cancer on the mainland. This picture was taken right after the team crossed the finish line. (Photo submitted by Jeff Cullen)

Just Posted

Lost dog reunited with family three months after going missing along Juan de Fuca trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of the Sooke rescuers

Victoria family donates 878 falafel wraps to support Beirut blast victims

Wrap and Roll pulls in $20,500 during weekend fundraiser

Reimagined campaign continues to make Vancouver Island wishes come true

#UnWinedOutside allows participants to support Make-A-Wish Foundation, local businesses

Laid-off hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

Police investigating string of break-ins at closed Saanich care home

Electronics, tools reported stolen from Mount Tolmie Hospital

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Most Read