For Andrea Earley, raising awareness for those affected by breast cancer is personal.
The Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service Paramedic/Public Events Coordinator’s mother was diagnosed in the past, so Earley saw firsthand what those with the condition go through.
Also a medic, she routinely sees patients fighting their own personal battles.
“The reason why I believe in doing this is for my mother,” Earley said. “I’m passionate about it because I love doing things to help others.”
Three years ago, the SOAS decided it wanted to make an impact for those going through especially hard times, which inspired the group’s annual t-shirt fundraiser that goes through the month of October.
The shirts this year feature the American flag with one bright pink stripe down the back, as well as a pink caduceus in its stars. Staff at SOAS are permitted to wear these shirts during work hours and when on-call in order to raise awareness.
Once the sales conclude, all the money is given to an individual affected by breast cancer.
“When we choose people, it’s people in a real dire need of help, like if they’re overwhelmed with doctor bills, just need extra money for food or the holidays,” Earley said. “We find one person who we feel is in the most need, and we give it to that person.”
Local churches and nonprofits help in finding somebody who can truly benefit from the funds. Last year, SOAS was able to raise $268 for one individual, but the first responders hope to raise enough money to split for multiple people.
“Hopefully, this year, we can get more orders in and separate that and give to a couple of other individuals,” said Bill Jones, assistant director of operations for SOAS.
For Earley, making a local impact for those affected by breast cancer is just the beginning. Seeing those affected by countless medical conditions on a daily basis has made her realize the potential humanitarian efforts such as these have toward making a difference.
“My goal is to do something more than just for cancer,” Earley said. “There’s more than just breast cancer out there. I think there’s a need, but there’s also way more need for others affected by different things.”
Those interested in purchasing t-shirts can email SOAS via office@soas.net. Sizes S-XL cost $20, while each additional size up is an additional $2.