Syracuse Police Officers Raise Nearly $11,000 for Cancer Charities

Nov 30, 2017

Sgt. James Milana, left, and Sgt. Colin Hillman spearheaded the department's fundraising effort for local cancer care organizations. Participating male officers were permitted to grow beards, and female officers could paint their fingernails blue.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Members of the Syracuse Police Department responded to a different kind of call over the past two months.  They were up to the challenge…in exchange for wearing pink badges, growing beards, and painting their fingernails. 

Sergeant Colin Hillman says there was a certain feeling of freedom when male officers didn’t have to shave and female officers could paint their nails blue.  Normally, both are prohibited.

"Telling the patrol cops they get to grow a beard for a month was great.  As far as bolstering morale, it was very popular."

Sergeant James Milana, along with Sergeant Hillman, spearheaded a unique fundraising effort.

"It was a worthy cause we wanted to take up.  It was also fun.  It was fun to have something  we could all get behind in the department.  It was fun to do something a little different.  It's also fun to help people, something we do every day," Milana said.  "We raised $10,800 to go to local charities.  That money was raised from officers donating a minimum of $40 of their own money toward the cause.  In addition, the Syracuse Fire Department Credit Union made a donation to bring that number up."

The money was split evenly among men and women’s cancer care:  $5,400 went to the Upstate Foundation, which director of relations Terry Shenfeld says supports testicular, colo-rectal, prostate, and other cancer patients.

"This money will go such a long way toward supporting research taking place right here at Upstate  on prostate cancer, and also patient education and patient care."

Pink shields were worn during October to show support and raise awareness for those suffering from breast cancer.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

$2,700 was donated to shades of inspiration, a women’s cancer support group run by Katrina Delee-Jones.

"We might go to doctor's appointments, come clean your house, fix you a meal or buy you a meal, or just being at the doctor's office, being that support because coming to the doctor and hearing that c-word is very scary."

And another $2,700 will go do the Carol Baldwin Foundation for breast cancer research.  Jeanne St. Clair says she had already created a campaign called Turn it Pink…

"My mom sent me the article about the police officers, and I said, 'why didn't I think of that?'  That is so cool because it goes along the lines of what the Turn it Pink campaign is about.  They just look so cool in the pink badges."

Police Chief Frank Fowler is proud of his department.

"One of the things all law enforcement officers have in common is that whenever we're presented with a situation or called into a situation, our goal is to make it better.  These gentlemen saw a cause, saw a worthy cause, decided to do something about it, stepped into it.  I'd like to think today that we've made the situation just a little bit better for someone out there."

The recipients hold their "checks". From left is Jeanne St. Clair with the Carol Baldwin Foundation; Terry Shenfeld with the Upstate Foundation; and Katrine Delee-Jones with Shades of Inspiration.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News