It was hard to find a dry eye in Carson Hall during the Victoria Fire Department’s second annual Gala for Hope Saturday night.
Faced with roaring apartment fires, piles of smoldering rubble and unpredictable physical threats at every scene – there’s one looming danger to fire crews that’s completely invisible and has taken three from the department’s in just three years.
The fight against cancer is a cause close to the hearts of local firefighters and the community after the losses of former chiefs Richard Couch and Doug Angrove as well as firefighter Stan Thame.
Firefighters have a nine per cent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer than the general population – and a 14 per cent higher risk of dying from the disease. On Saturday night the gala raised thousands of dollars for the BC Cancer Foundation – some of which will help Vancouver Island hospitals purchase PET scans – ‘positron emission tomography’ imaging that helps doctors more accurately and quickly diagnose cancer.
The evening featured moving speeches from Mena Westhaver, who’s son survived cancer, and Vancouver Fire Captain Steve Letourneau, who is still battling cancer after a terminal diagnosis in 2014.
The Gala for Hope is the department’s main fundraiser for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, supporting the fundraising efforts of the Victoria firefighter team cycling more than 200 kilometres across the Lower Mainland and ending in none other than Hope, B.C.
— Nina Grossman (@NinaGrossman) June 16, 2019