Local police departments wear pink badges for breast cancer awareness

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ALTAVISTA, Va. (WDBJ7) Several police departments in our hometowns are getting involved in breast cancer awareness this year. Officers in Altavista, Brookneal and Hurt are wearing pink badges all October.

Pink badge. WDBJ7 photo.

The initiative was started months ago by Frank Dalton, a breast cancer survivor himself who has spent the last several years raising awareness about the cancer, particularly with men.

“My goal was that if I could save one person’s life, I would feel like I had accomplished something,” Dalton said.

He posted the idea on social media and it gained traction quickly. While the smaller departments were supportive of the idea, finding money in the budget was a concern. That’s when Andy Gill, owner of GB Stores, stepped in to help.

Gill spent more than $1,400 of his own money to purchase the badges for police in the area.

“My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and every community we do business in, we’re not just another business,” Gill said. “We’re there to be part of the community, and giving back is very important to me and my family.”

Altavista Police Chief Tommy Merricks said the badges have been a conversation starter in the community. They’ve helped raise awareness about breast cancer while at the same time improving police-community relationships.

“Altavista is a special place and the community is really strong,” Merricks said. “We feel it is something small that we can do to honor these folks.”

Organizers of this initiative hope it catches on with other departments in the area. Chief Merricks said his department plans to wear the pink badges every October moving forward.

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