US Firefighters Ask Public to ‘Fill the Boot’ and Raise Money for Muscular Dystrophy

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Fill the Boot fundraiser

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) are joining forces this summer to support efforts to find much-needed treatments, and possibly a cure, for muscular dystrophy (MD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other muscle-degenerative diseases.

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Members of Dallas Fire-Rescue helped raise $519,000 during the city’s annual Fill the Boot Drive, MDA’s largest to date. (Credit: MDA)

The two are working together to promote the 62nd Annual Fill the Boot fundraiser, a traditional money-raising event among firefighters across the U.S. During the campaign, firefighters hit the streets and storefronts asking passersby to donate to MDA

IAFF is MDA’s largest supporter, with more than $583 million raised since 1954. In 2015, over 100,000 firefighters took part in Fill the Boot events nationwide, raising $25.5 million for research. This summer, some 580 Boot drives are underway.

“The IAFF is honored to continue more than 60 years of partnership with MDA to help further our shared mission to free individuals from the harmful effects of these life-threatening diseases,” Harold A. Schaitberger, IAFF’s general president, said in a press release. “Today, we’re inspired to see more and more MDA families overcoming challenges and living life to the fullest. We are proud to be part of this progress and will continue to fight alongside MDA until a cure is found.”

Firefighters help to raise money for the MDA year-round, taking part in softball and golf tournaments, marathons, MDA Muscle Walks, or volunteering at MDA summer camps. IAFF donations help to provide care and services, including state-of-the-art multidisciplinary care, at more than 150 MDA Care Centers. The campaign also funds thousands of kids’ MDA Summer Camp experiences at no cost to their families.

To help the firefighters achieve this year’s goal, the MDA launched a six-week summer campaign called Live Unlimited on June 20, inspired by people who are overcoming their own limitations and challenges day by day. The core of the campaign is to spark a conversation that shifts the focus away from limitations and toward possibilities.

“Each year, thousands of selfless fire fighters across America collect donations — one dollar at a time — in their boots to help provide kids and adults with life-enhancing resources and support,” said Steven M. Derks, MDA’s president and chief executive officer. “To live unlimited means to redefine what you thought was possible and live life to your fullest potential. With help from the IAFF, we are able to help turn ‘cant’s’ into ‘cans’ for the individuals we serve, and we look forward to making more of these moments possible this Fill the Boot season, and for years to come.”