CARY – There is a pink tow truck in Cary, and this is its story.
Chuck Basler’s life changed forever the day he saw Debbie Baker.
He had just arrived at a friend’s house in Cary. She was sitting on a couch watching TV and he “just knew,” Basler remembers.
She was 16, and “she was just beautiful,” Basler said.
They talked a few times and soon began to date. At the time, Basler was 19 and working hard as a driver for Whitey’s Towing Inc., and his schedule in the early years often meant date nights in a big truck.
“When Deb and I first started dating, the first thing she got a ride in was a tow truck,” Basler said. “Half of our time together in the beginning was in the truck.”
There were trips to the grocery store and Thanksgivings in the tow. Debbie didn’t mind, though, she had met her very own prince charming.
Four years later, the Cary couple, who had grown quickly to become best friends, joined as husband and wife. Three years later, they became parents first to Brooke, today 18, and then to Bradley, 15.
“People are always talking about being the perfect couple. Not to brag, but we had it,” Basler said.
They were each other’s biggest fans as she earned her degree at McHenry County College and he grew into a career as a crane operator with Whitey’s Crane Rental.
From their first days in the tow truck together through 21 years of marriage, Chuck and Debbie were inseparable. With Debbie, even rainy days were wonderful, Chuck Basler said. There was nothing more the family enjoyed than pulling the blinds, turning off the phones, and holing up in their home to watch movies and soak up the time together.
That time, however, was cut short.
In 2010, Debbie Basler was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a double mastectomy and a brave battle, the Baslers and the doctors declared the cancer beat. But this January, Debbie began experiencing eye problems. The cancer had come back.
About the same time that Debbie Basler became sick again, Patrick Blank, the owner of Whitey’s Towing and a longtime family friend, decided to rebuild one of his small tow trucks. To honor Debbie and raise money for cancer research, Blank decided to have his truck dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.
Everyone associated with Whitey’s chipped in, and the truck was rebuilt and repainted special for the Baslers. It was unveiled in April inside the garage at Whitey’s Crane Rental to a crowd of 300 family and friends.
Phrases such as “Pulling for a cure,” and “one tow at a time” cover the hot pink truck. Written on the hood, next to a graphic of a buxom lady baseball player, were the words “Don’t let breast cancer steal second base.”
The truck had attitude – just like Debbie and it was perfect. Basler was speechless the first time he saw it.
The most special part for Chuck Basler however remains the big ribbon on the side that reads “8-7-70 to 3-15-11” with Debbie’s name on it.
There is a bright pink tow truck in Cary because of Debbie Basler.
It honors the life of a best friend, a lover and a mother. A woman who loved life so much, Chuck Basler said, that she took 2,000 photos of her friends and family each year, and a woman so sweet that she would spend two weeks every December painstakingly choosing the best of those photos to make personalized Christmas cards for everyone.
There is a pink tow truck in Cary to honor Debbie, to remind residents to live each day to the fullest, and to help prevent future loss.
Part of the proceeds from each tow the truck makes – $5 per hook up and 50 cents per mile – will go to local cancer clinics.
This will continue, Blank said, as long as the truck is pink and there is cancer left to beat.