Throughout the morning of June 14, firefighters from Local 1401 Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District were seen around downtown Cotati, wielding boots and urging passersby to “fill the boot” with donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). By the time the effort ended midafternoon, $6,871 was raised by the local community to help children and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases live longer and happier lives.
This is the third annual drive the Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District was involved in, with help this year from Cal Fire firefighters.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Rancho Adobe Fire Department for another year of ‘Fill the Boot’ to help provide funds needed to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that severely limit strength and mobility,” says Sara Boring, Executive Director of the Bay Area MDA. “The dedication of these fire fighters to MDA’s mission is unwavering, spending countless hours both with Fill the Boot and MDA Summer Camp to care for the kids and adults in the area.”
The “Fill the Boot” campaign itself has been around since 1954 with the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) committing by proclamation to support the MDA until a cure is found. What started with $100,000 raised in 1955 climaxed to over 100,000 firefighters across the country raising over $26 million in 2016. To date the IAFF has raised $607 million for MDA.
Contributions help fund groundbreaking research and life-enhancing programs such as state-of-the-art support groups and care centers, including the MDA Care Center at Stanford Hospital, UCSF and Californian Pacific Medical Center. Over the past year alone, there have been three drugs approved by the FDA to treat three of the 43 neuromuscular diseases covered by the MDA.
Much of the funds stay in the local community in which they are raised. Last year, Local 1401 sent three local children to the MDA summer camp at Westminster Woods in Occidental – all at no cost to their families. The MDA Summer Camp provides kids with muscular dystrophy and related muscle-debilitating diseases “the best week of the year.” It is a week where the campers are free to enjoy adventures like horseback riding, swimming and fishing, develop lifelong friendships, and build self-confidence and independence, all while medical and physical needs are met by a team of health professionals and trained camp volunteers. In the past, many of the firefighters who helped the fundraising effort to send the kids to camp come help out at the camp as well.
“It’s really rewarding for us,” says Tim Caldwell, Captain of the Rancho Adobe Fire District. “It’s good to see our charitable efforts go to a good cause. This camp allows kids with Muscular Dystrophy to just be a kid.”
For more information about MDA or to donate, visit mda.org. Donations can still be accepted for the local Rancho Adobe drive.