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S.C. EMS Workers Band Together to Raise Awareness, Money for Cancer

ANDERSO, S.C. -- The white T-shirts that Debbie Hart's co-workers at Medshore Ambulance Service, and other rescue workers around Anderson County were wearing Thursday meant a lot to her.

To her, the shirt was more than a switch from the usual blue uniform shirt. It was a sign that people still remember her husband, Ron Hart, who died of cancer in 2011.

Ron worked at Medshore Ambulance Service for about 20 years. It's where he and Debbie met, and it's where they married.

His cancer was diagnosed on Nov. 21, 2010. Eighty-three days later, he died. Debbie was able to spend those 83 days with her husband because their co-workers donated paid vacation days.

Now, those same co-workers are raising money to help others affected by cancer, and the T-shirt that they designed to raise the money has her husband's radio number, 212, on it.

"If it weren't for these people here, I wouldn't have made it," Debbie said. "I am just proud that they honored him this way. The fact that he's still being remembered means so much."

Many of the local paramedics and emergency medical technicians have been involved in some way.

Jennifer Saxon, a 17-year veteran at Medshore, organized the T-shirt shirt sale. She's sold 250 shirts so far, and is prepared to order another box. Saxon, whose own father has cancer, said the sale has generated $500 so far.

On Saturday, a team from Medshore will participate in the Walk A Mile in Their Shoes event, being held by Primary Care Associates and Primary Care Aesthetics, at the AnMed Health North Campus.

Nate Thomason, an employee at Medshore, designed the shirts with three of the Medshore employees' radio numbers on them. One of those numbers is for Ron Hart. The other two radio numbers are for Donna Wiles and Ricky Martin.

Wiles and Martin have also fought cancer, and work at Medshore.

On the T-shirt, next to a heart that has those three radio numbers in it is a statement: "Sometimes the families we fight for are our own."

Rescue workers from Oconee County, Pelzer, Iva, Pendleton, Williamston and Medshore's Greenville office have bought the shirts, and many wore them Thursday.

As a group of the paramedics stood outside of the Medshore headquarters on Fant Street Thursday morning, a paramedic with the Pelzer rescue squad rode by. He looked at the group's T-shirts and then looked down at his matching T-shirt and gave them a big grin and a wave.

"Every day of the year, we are divided by our uniform shirts," Saxon said. "But on this one day, when we wear these shirts, we are united for the same cause."

It's the third year that the T-shirt sale has been organized. During the first year, they raised money for Donna Wiles after she had a diagnosis of breast cancer. The second year, they sold T-shirts for the Harts.

Now, Saxon said, they are raising money to benefit the Cancer Association of Anderson, and a memorial that is being built in Gaston, S.C., for the emergency medical personnel who have died across South Carolina.

For Debbie Hart, the other aspect of this gesture from her co-workers that gives her some comfort is that their efforts are doing something to help others affected by cancer. They are helping the people whom she and her husband saw as they made countless trips to the AnMed Health Cancer Center.

Even now, a year later, Debbie remembers one of those faces they saw. A woman sat in a chair at the cancer center. She was bald from her treatments and she was so weak and had no idea how she was going to get home, Debbie said.

The money being donated to the Cancer Association of Anderson will go to help pay for patients' treatments and the gas money they need to go to doctors' office.

"Cancer affects so many people," Debbie said. "You never know who it's going to be. I am hoping people will give so that others can have a better outcome."


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