Throwing a few dollars in a boot might seem like a small gesture, but for families who suffer in the wake of a muscular dystrophy diagnosis, it means the world.
This week, the City Council proclaimed Oct. 19-21 as “Fill the Boot Days,” for the City of Clinton Fire Department. It will be the second year the local fire department has participated in the national effort between the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), a 61-year partnership committed to saving lives.
As MDA’s largest national sponsor, the IAFF aids MDA’s mission to save and improve the lives of people affected by muscular dystrophy. Clinton Fire Chief Scott Phillips said it is an incredibly important cause.
For six decades, firefighters have fueled MDA’s mission to find treatments and cures for life-threatening muscle diseases, and last year the City of Clinton joined forces with the local MDA to set up their first-ever “Fill the Boot” campaign.
More than 20 Clinton firefighters participated in the three-day drive in September 2014. They were hoping to raise $5,000 to benefit the cause. Led by “Fill the Boot” coordinator Fire Captain Joshua Coombs, they raised well over twice that — $12,553.15. Coombs received Rookie of the Year honors for spearheading the effort, which ranked among the best for similar departments.
“We are very excited to have them on board again,” MDA representative Katie Murphy said. “Last year they raised over $12,000 for MDA. There are fire departments that have done this for many, many years (and Clinton raised more). They are doing a great job. MDA supports 43 neuromuscular diseases, some that start in children and some in adults. Some are terminal. Our families definitely need that support and our firefighters help with that.”
“The money they are raising in Clinton is staying here,” Murphy noted.
Prior to last year’s inaugural effort, the Clinton Fire Department was put in touch with Amy and Brad Bass, a local couple whose son had a rare form of muscularly dystrophy which ultimately claimed his life.
At the City Council’s meeting earlier this week, Amy Bass talked about just how vital funds and support are in the fight for a cure. She thanked local firefighters for their continued efforts.
“You never know how important a drive like this is. My son Reid died seven years ago at 6 months of age with a non-curable form of muscular dystrophy — myotubular myopathy,” an emotional Bass said. “He was affected tremendously by this disease, not being able to do anything a 6-month-old child should be able to do. It’s fundraisers like this that give families like me, and other families suffering from a muscular disease, hope that there can be a cure.”
The MDA is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency in that fight, dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures, providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide and rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement.
For three days later this month, Clinton firefighters will be near the Walmart stoplight in the area of the McDonald’s and Arby’s parking lots and adjacent driveways, away from the street — boots in hand.
Bass noted one cure that has been found in recent years and hopes many others will follow. Reid suffered from a very rare affliction and there are many more like him that similarly suffer alongside their families.
“Fundraisers like this go a long way in helping to find a cure,” she attested. “We do appreciate their efforts to raise money for MDA so that other families will not have to be affected like my husband, son and I have been affected by losing a brother and a child.”