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McKeesport firefighters sell T-shirts to aid cancer victims

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 3:56 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport firefighters, from left, Matt Holtzman, Garrett Segelson, T.J. Perciavalle and Kevin Kovach display IAFF Local 10's 2013 breast cancer awareness T-shirts.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport firefighters Matt Holtzman, standing, and Garrett Segelson unpack T-shirt orders at their Renziehausen Park station.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport firefighters Kevin Kovach and T.J. Perciavalle sort through this year's breast cancer awareness T-shirts.

McKeesport firefighters are raising funds so that a nonprofit organization can provide financial assistance to young women living with breast cancer.

They are selling custom pink “Courage for the Cure” T-shirts to benefit the McKeesport-based Kristy Lasch Miracle Foundation.

The front is adorned with the International Association of Firefighters logo, with a pink ribbon in the center, and the back shows McKeesport Area High School's mascot Tiger embracing the logo.

Tom and Lynn Lasch started the foundation in 2005 in memory of their daughter Kristy Leigh Lasch, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 22 and passed away on Oct. 2, 2004, at age 26.

The high cost of treatment became a burden to the family, and that inspired their mission to help others get through similar situations.

“Kristy always wanted to start a foundation for women under 30 with breast cancer,” Lynn Lasch said when the foundation was formed. “She got close to the people who ran the (Susan G.) Komen (for the Cure) and with Bosom Buddies, but there was no one her age. Kristy always said she would start a foundation, but unfortunately she wasn't able to.”

IAF Local 10 president Jeff Tomovcsik said the union made breast cancer awareness one of its main charitable causes, and contributed about $1,300 to the foundation last year.

“We lucked out in the fact that we have a great local foundation to donate money to,” Tomovcsik said. “We have a few firefighters here who personally knew Kristy Lasch and are on a personal level with Tom and Lynn.”

Tomovcsik said sales have been brisk.

“We're trying to move as many shirts as possible,” he said. “It seems like each year the sales expand a little bit more.”

Firefighter Matt Holtzman designed and printed the shirts through his business, Shogun Graphix.

“I was inspired by (Mayor Michael Cherepko's) administration and their signage promoting respect, hope, love and dignity throughout the city,” Holtzman said. “Trying to inspire some civic unity, I wanted to use the Tiger design because that's obviously the high school mascot. My brother (Mark Holtzman) is the principal of the high school.”

“We've got a great football team, good athletics, and we've turned out some pretty notable people from McKeesport Area School District,” Tomovcsik said. “This year, with the Tiger on the back, kind of brings everything together.”

It is the fourth year that the fire department has used shirts designed by Holtzman to raise money and awareness.

“Last year it was a ribbon with a fire helmet on it,” Holtzman said. “I try to do something different each year.”

Holtzman said it is a privilege to create something that benefits people, noting many firefighters know someone who has battled cancer.

“People who struggle with this in life are always supportive,” Holtzman said. “I'm always really surprised by how many people buy them. It's unbelievable.”

Cost is $15 for small through extra-large, and $17 for bigger sizes. They can be ordered online at www.mckeesportfirefighters.org.

Information about the foundation is available online at www.kristylasch.org or by calling 412-872-4125.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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