For Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats, the fight against breast cancer is personal. His wife, Dale, has survived the life changing ordeal three times.
“This disease it doesn’t have a gender, it doesn’t have an age, it attacks everybody,” Coats said. “Not just women, it attacks men. And to me, it’s personal.”
Coats has dedicated much of his off-time to helping various organizations involved in the fight. He’s supported Relay For Life, and has seen firsthand, children fighting the disease.
Coats also has another stake in this fight — his son is a bone cancer survivor. Coats understands the battle victims and their caregivers face.
“All the work and the money these volunteers raise does so much to help,” Coats said. “I want to recognize the people that have gone through this and what their spouses and families have gone through. I want people across Harnett County to realize we’re going to do all we can to help raise money and recognize this dreaded disease that affects so many families.”
Now, all deputies in uniform will have a special badge on their chest, one that’s a six-pointed star with all words in pink. Coats chose pink badges over the traditional pink ribbons.
“These men and women, they support the cause as well and they’re out there and seen every day,” Coats said. “I could have put ribbons up here at the sheriff’s office, I could have put them at my house. But I want the community to know the men and women here support them as well.”
Coats said the badges symbolize not only support for defeating breast cancer, he believes it also displays how members of his department feel about those they’ve chosen to serve.
“It’s just a small token of what we here at the sheriff’s office can do to show our support for these men and women who do have breast cancer,” Coats said. “And for the support they show us everyday.”
For Deputy Zach Pritchett, who stopped in Coats’ office to get his special badge, the fight is personal as well. His grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
“It affects everybody,” Pritchett said. “The support shown for anybody, who’s been affected, is awesome.”
As for wearing the pink badge, Pritchett says it’s a great way to show his personal support alongside the support of the sheriff’s office.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “It lets the public know we’re here to support them and everything they go through on a daily basis. Not just on bad times when we get out there, on good days and everyday.”
Coats also has another reason, he wants to make sure everyone is more than just aware of the disease. He urges everyone to take the steps needed to make sure they’re around for years to come.
“As the sheriff, I’m asking all the men and women to make sure they get their checkups,” Coats said. “It can save lives.”
Rick Curl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2037.