Local law enforcement officers once again are pinning on their pink badges and looking to support a local breast cancer fund.
For a sixth year, the Morganton Department of Public Safety will be selling T-shirts for breast cancer awareness. It’s the third year officers have donned pink badges and sold commemorative patches.
The program was put on hold last year because of material availability, but the department is picking up this year with patches for 2020 and 2021, and a T-shirt for 2021. Patches for 2020 and 2021 are $10 each and T-shirts are $20 each. Leftover patches and keychains from 2019 are $5 each.
Each year, the design for the T-shirt is officer-driven, said MDPS Capt. Keith Bowman. The shirts are printed by MLB Graphics in Drexel.
The design on the back of this year’s shirt features an American flag design with pink stars and “Fight for a cure” over it, a pink ribbon wrapped around an axe to represent the fire side of the Morganton Department of Public Safety, a MDPS breast cancer awareness patch and a blue stripe to represent the police side of the department. The front left corner of the short has blue striping with “Together we are stronger,” the breast cancer awareness patch, two axes and a pink ribbon.
2020’s patch shows a silhouette of the cupola atop Morganton’s historic courthouse with a pink ribbon in the left corner, while 2021’s patch shows two hands clasped over the backdrop of Table Rock and Lake James.
“We want to show people that we’re not just out here doing police duties,” Bowman said. “We have a track history of years and years since I’ve been here of being involved in the community ... it’s always fun. It feels good to help people.”
All the money raised through the sales will stay local, with 100% of proceeds being donated to the Blue Ridge HealthCare Foundation’s Make Pink Possible fund. The fund provides mammograms for local residents who can’t afford them.
“We believe in focusing our efforts locally to support local initiatives for breast cancer support, and in doing so local people are able to benefit from that within our community,” said MDPS Capt. Jason Whisnant.
It’s personal for many of the officers at MDPS.
Officer Tony Paterno’s mother is in her third battle with breast cancer, and the cancer led to another relative’s death.
“It’s always been near and dear to me,” Paterno said. “My aunt passed a few years ago from complications from breast cancer and every female on my mother’s side has had breast cancer, so that’s why it’s always been a big thing for me.”
Bowman’s grandmother fought the cancer, and he has a friend who’s in the middle of a fight against it. Whisnant lost his mother to breast cancer about eight years ago.
Officers also have swapped their traditional badges for pink ones to show support for breast cancer awareness throughout the month of October.
“Our badge is a visible symbol of authority,” Whisnant said. “When we mix it up, wearing a pink badge is a symbol of a community support and recognition of our role in supporting women in their fight against breast cancer.”
The pink badges always seem to spark conversation when officers are out in the community, Bowman said.
“It just seems like the badge is almost like the first thing that people look at,” Bowman said.
The fundraiser and pink badges, along with MDPS’ other community programming like Blue Elves, shows the department’s involvement in the community goes further than making arrests and writing citations, officers said.
“We’re as focused on supporting the community as we are enforcing the laws,” Whisnant said.
Anyone interested in purchasing shirts, patches or a keychain should try to get their order in by mid-October. Supplies will be limited after that. Orders can be placed by:
- Messaging Morganton Public Safety on Facebook;
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Calling the MDPS records department Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 828-437-1211; or,
- Stopping by MDPS headquarters at 304 S. College St. during business hours.