Pink Heals in Joliet has a New Truck - The Kris!

Source: Pink Heals Facebook Page

Source: Pink Heals Facebook Page

When I was younger, I used to joke that my ancestors landed in Joliet, Illinois either because someone was giving away land or the horse died while crossing the Des Plaines River.  Whatever their reason for landing here I had always wondered why did they stay?  There was so much more scenic land if they had continued West or warmth if they had headed South.  But, that wasn’t in the cards and Joliet was where both sides of my family planted their roots.

Over the years, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate this town and all the people that live here.  And, all of those people who live here, are connected in very special ways.  Parents are friends, their children are friends and their grand-children are now friends.  If you need something there is always someone there to help you.  If you need support you’re always lifted.  This past Saturday was a beautiful example of why Joliet is such a wonderful community to be a part of and why I love all the people that live here.

My childhood friend, Kris Fitzgerald-Toborg, has been fighting and winning the battle against cancer for over 5 years now.  She is the kind of person that cancer is confused by, as she is stronger than the disease and all of the difficult medicines that have been given to her.  She is strong, positive and the true definition of a fighter.

Saturday, the Pink Heals organization, surprised Kris with her very own pink fire truck, that they named after her.  She was chosen for this honor because she has become an inspiration to everyone in town, including the Pink Heals organization.

As part of the surprise many family and friends gathered at the Joliet Park District to help celebrate.  We all showed up at 7:30 am in the board room at the Joliet Park District for the 8:00 am surprise.  When people asked, “Why so early?”, the answer was just as surprising.  Kris was teaching a spin class that ended at that time.  Yes, Kris who is between chemotherapy treatments, was teaching a spin class!  I took a spin class once…only once!

Her Joliet Park District family had decorated the board room for the special celebration.  Many of my high school friends were there and we were in awe of the beautiful morning breakfast buffet arranged for Kris and her family.  We joked that half of the table was filled with healthy breakfast snacks and the other half was Home-Cut doughnuts and carbs!  Clearly that second half was provided by the non-fitness friends.

The table was adorned in pink, there were painted pink pumpkins, pink K’s, pink flowers and pink napkins.  We were provided pink poms to shake, friends were dressed in pink tutus and pink clothing.  This was truly a celebration planned with love!

As I looked around the room, there were new friends, old friends and family.  There were aunts and uncles wearing crazy pink wigs.  There were pink feathers floating in the air from the many hot pink feather boas.  It was then that I realized how perfect the color pink is to represent breast cancer, it not only represents women it represents love.

Kris is surrounded by love and strong people!  She has the strongest most loving parents and sister.  Her husband Shaun is one of my favorite most positive people, and their two boys Max and Ben are beautiful and athletic young men.  All of these people, and many more, have helped Kris fight and stay motivated.

As Kris came down the stairs from her spin class, she was surrounded by her second family from the Joliet Park District.  As, they led her outside, she was met by the huge pink crowd and a Pink Heals Fire Truck and team.  The real surprise had yet to be revealed to her, but the crowd alone, I’m sure was a great surprise.

The Pink Heals, Joliet Chapter founders, Matt and Sandra Fleck began to speak and the excitement was felt throughout the crowd.  Matt, who is a Joliet Firefighter and Sandra who is a Senior Vice-President and market leader for Heartland Bank, spoke about Pink Heals and their Pink Heals relationship with Kris.


It was then time for the real surprise.  We were all treated to a private parade of Joliet Fire Trucks, Joliet Police Cars, State Police and the other Joliet Pink Heals Fire vehicles named for Addison and Tina.  And, then from around the corner the real surprise rolled up, the newest truck in their fleet, The Kris!  There wasn’t a dry eye in the entire parking lot.  What a wonderful honor for Kris and her family.

Matt then shared the back story on the preparation of the Kris truck.  They had only two weeks to paint the truck for Saturday’s celebration.  They had to secure a location to paint the truck, painters to sand and paint and someone to letter the truck.  As, our town, “We Got a Guy For That” Joliet is best at, a location was secured, paint was donated, painters were waiting and lettering was at the ready.

The truck was painted in record time and pictures were sent to Matt for approval.  Matt then explained to the crowd, they had received and unknowingly, fully painted in the wrong color pink.  An entire fire truck was accidently painted in the wrong color.  They didn’t have a lot of time to fix the truck and could have given up there.  However, everyone pulled together, new paint was purchased and the Kris truck was repainted and lettered in record time for Saturday’s unveiling.

Matt went on to say that each of their trucks has, in certain ways, taken on the personality of the person that it is named after.  In this case, just like Kris, with each hurdle placed in front of her, it was faced and fixed.  It really was the truest and most beautiful of analogies.  Kris doesn’t give up and neither does the Kris truck!

The pink fire trucks are taken to different events that celebrate and honor women fighting cancer.  Each of the trucks have personal hand written messages on them by cancer survivors, family and friends.  We were all honored with writing some of the first of many messages to come on the Kris truck.  The big pink trucks are inspirational to see in person!

As, the trucks were driven away on Saturday, I thought to myself, we shouldn’t be surprised if Kris applies for her CDL.  We will see her, after her spin class, driving the Kris truck to the next event to inspire the next group of Pink Heals fans!

In Kris’ own words, “Hope and lots of love!  One day at a time!”  Kris thank you for being such an inspiration to all of us!  Fight on!


For more information on Pink Heals in Joliet visit their FaceBook page:

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