Salute The Badge: Tallahassee firefighter helps those struggling with cancer

Published: Jul. 31, 2018 at 6:32 PM EDT
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By: WCTV Eyewitness News

July 31, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- At the Tallahassee Fire Department, every second matters. Just ask Sarah Cooksey.

She's an engineer and helps keep us all in the know by interviewing with reporters both in studio and on the scene.

"I'm also on the Lieutenant's List, so I act out of class as a lieutenant which is kind of in charge with the unit when we respond to calls," she explained.

When she's not talking with the media, Sarah is working on the department's social media accounts.

At the end of her shift, Sarah trades in her red and black uniform for another; and this one's pink.

Sarah is the president of Pink Heals Tallahassee; a national organization that raises money for cancer patients.

“In 2010 they drove their pink fire truck through the city of Tallahassee," she said. "The very next day, Ariel Gandie - a young girl in our area - was diagnosed with a fatal liver cancer. I just knew at that point the City of Tallahassee needed this program.”

Cooksey named her first truck after Ariel, a truck that was donated by Wakulla County Fire Rescue. She organized volunteers to restore and paint the truck pink. Ariel took three years to complete. Now, you can't miss it.

"I was all in, because of Ariel," said Mike Desherlia, who works at Legacy Toyota. Legacy is one of the first local companies who has lent a helping hand.

"There's not anything out there for in the middle of life from the diagnosis time to the end game," Desherila said.

He says helping Cooksey, and her cause, was a no brainier. Now, he's excited to refurbish a second truck in honor of a toddler named Miles, who lost his battle with cancer at just three years old.

Cooksey's hope is to get Miles' truck painted, and on the road to spread hope.

“Terminal illnesses are things that bankrupt families and we just want to help them during those times," she said. "Whether we pay mortgages or pay electric bills or buy groceries or anything such as that.”

For her love and efforts, for the cancer community and its families, we want to salute Sarah Cooksey.