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After losing 3 sisters to breast cancer, 'Pink Fireman' on mission to raise awareness

The work of Marshall Moneymaker, also known as "The Pink Fireman," also includes making sure kids aren't forgotten, either, in their outreach efforts.
A decade ago, Marshall Moneymaker and his wife, Shannon, started the nonprofit "For 3 Sisters," in honor of his three sisters - Vicky, Penny and Valessa – who all died of breast cancer in the span of two years.
Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than white women. For Hispanic women, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. That is why advocates say education and awareness is key to fighting the disease.
Marshall Moneymaker, a.k.a., The Pink Fireman, drives his bright pink fire truck to events to raise awareness of breast cancer. The disease took the lives of three of his sisters.
Over the decades, treatments for breast cancer have saved thousands of lives, but it still remains deadly for many. According to the CDC, every year, 42,000 women die from breast cancer, as do 500 men.
Posted at 6:36 AM, Oct 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-21 09:36:20-04

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — You can see it coming a mile away - literally.

"It has a pump, a tank of water and has a hose,” said retired firefighter Marshall Moneymaker. "I was trained well. I've driven her on a few calls."

Now, though, the fire truck he drives answers a different kind of call.

"The beauty of the story is, it actually served in the same station that I did,” he said of the truck. “I put that unit in service."

The bright pink fire truck now serves with Moneymaker on a new mission – raising awareness of breast cancer as "The Pink Fireman." For Moneymaker, it's deeply personal.

"While I was on the job, I lost three of my seven sisters to breast cancer," he said.

His three sisters – Vicky, Penny and Valessa – all died of breast cancer in the span of two years.

"I didn't know I was dealing with mental issues or processing things until a breast cancer walk set up a pit stop in our firehouse," Moneymaker said. "After that day, I got involved locally with a breast cancer nonprofit. I went to Walmart and found the funniest pink pajamas I could find and, you know, just put an ensemble together, so to speak."

With that, The Pink Fireman was born.

"Me getting my own fire truck – I like to think that's the sisters involved, you know?" Moneymaker said.

A decade ago, he and his wife, Shannon, started the nonprofit "For 3 Sisters" and with some help from his old colleagues, they bought the retired fire truck at auction.

"I love this truck! I love this truck! I am so proud of this truck because this truck is more than just a truck,” Shannon Moneymaker said. “It really is a representation of community and family and service to people who need it."

Their foundation helps those with breast cancer facing financial hardships.

"We become their family and I really want people to know that they're never, ever alone in their journey," Shannon said.

For them, October is go time.

"Breast cancer happens all year long, but with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for us, it's like the Super Bowl," Shannon said.

That means they travel to numerous outreach events - with their Golden Retriever ambassador, Hope -- and let people know they can help. Breast cancer survivor Carolyn Davenport met up with them at a recent event.

"I was treated for breast cancer like seven years ago, almost eight now," Davenport said. "I really just wanted to come over and say thank you for doing the work they're doing."

The work also includes making sure kids aren't forgotten, either.

"We have a program for the kids called "McKenzie's Corner" where they get a pink (fireman) hat," Moneymaker said, as he handed on hat to a small boy.

As for what his sisters might think of all that he has done, The Pink Fireman has one hope.

"I'm hoping they're proud of their little brother," he said.

For more information on For 3 Sisters, click here.