By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Chief Al Hyser is representing Boone County in the Real Men Wear Pink competition this year. The Belvidere Firefighters are in full support of his efforts to battle cancer.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Real Men Wear Pink competition between Boone and Winnebago Counties to raise funds for the American Cancer Society is on once again.

Last year Mayor Mike Chamberlain was the sole representative from Boone County while Winnebago County fielded five candidates of their own to raise funds. Mayor Mike, with the full support of Belvidere, Boone County, and the help of the Belvidere Education Foundation, was able to raise $5965 in donations. This put him in first place for his fundraising efforts, earning as much as the top two competitors from Winnebago County.

This year, Belvidere Fire Chief Al Hyser was asked to participate as the sole representative from Boone County. He has been pitted against a full dozen candidates from Winnebago County:

Karl Ericksen – Rockford Carbide Manufacturing, Inc.

Michael Born – SwedishAmerican – A Division of UW Health

Arvind Mahatme – MercyHealth

Richard Nora – St. Anthony Medical Center

Tim Mattila – Rockford Icemen Coach

Kevin Rose – Carpetland USA

Daniel O’Shea – City of Rockford Police Dept.

Dan Anderson – Wipfli

Elder Granger – Granger, Cohen, & Donahue

Matthew Gabel – Associated Bank

Lamarr Wooden – Lamarr Wooden Fitness

Dan Cohen – WREX-TV

“Last year Mayor Mike was the Real Men Wear Pink representative from Boone County,” Chief Hyser said. “This year they asked me to do it. I am happy to oblige.

“I have experienced the effects of cancer in my life with my family, not to mention in my job with the many people living with cancer that we have gone out to visit in their time of need. I have seen firsthand what cancer does to people.

“Cancer affects our guys every day in the fire service. We respond to our community members on medical calls for people who are stricken with this dreadful disease. In our chosen field, cancer is becoming one of the biggest killers of firefighters ranking right up there with heart disease. The people in our business are taking measures to combat cancer and keep it out of our workplace and living quarters but administration can only do so much, it’s up to everyone to also do their part to keep the causes of cancer at bay. On a personal level, my stepdad was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1989. He passed away less than a year from the time of detection, he was only 52 years old and left a huge void in our family.

“I’m most excited about the opportunity to help others and this is an excellent format to do just that.

“The Real Men Wear Pink initiative held a kick-off breakfast with all the men involved this year. They did a PowerPoint presentation to a full room with patients fighting cancer and survivors. We (candidates) were asked to raise $2500 per person. The candidates are from all walks of life – doctors, businessmen, TV sports anchor, company CEOs, Police Chief Dan O’Shea, and me.

“That’s some stiff competition,” he said.

“Every dollar raised helps the American Cancer Society save lives from breast cancer through early detection and prevention, innovative breast cancer research, and patient support. It will provide people living with cancer free rides to their chemo treatments, free places to stay, providing a 24/7 cancer hotline for answers and support, and education and awareness programs to help others reduce their risks.

“I’ll do my part. Maybe it will help make things better for some people. Boone County has always been really good about helping. That’s why I love it here. Boone County people are so giving, helpful, and generous. They always rally around a good cause.

“Please help me raise funds to battle cancer. My goal is to exceed the $2500 they requested each of us raise.”

For a donation of at least $5, you can sign the large pink ribbon at the Belvidere Fire Station, 123 S. State St. To donate online, visit Real Men Wear Pink of Rockford and choose your Candidate – Al Hyser.

As Mayor Mike said last year, “This is a competition. Come on, Boone County! Let’s go!”

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