By Lindsay Owens
---- — Late last month the Washington Fire Department Local 495 spent two days collecting money at the Washington Walmart for the Muscular Dystophy Association or MDA as part of the Fill the Boot campaign.
“Our department has been doing Fill the Boot for at least 20 years,” said Fire Chief Dave Rhoads. “Nationally, fire departments have been doing this program for longer than that. The department also pairs with the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. “
This year, the local fire department raised $1,244 for the association that works to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases.
“The MDA helps so many families with the disease and our fire department, as well as many others across the country, like to help those families in need. We just feel this is worthy cause,” said Rhoads.
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the IAFF’s Fill the Boot drive is one of the largest contributors to the MDA each year. The time-honored summer tradition first started in 1953 in South Boston, Va. when fire fighter George Graney’s friend Charlie Crowley approached Graney about needing more money to take care of his two sons with muscular dystrophy. Graney and 20 fire fighters went door-to-door and raised $5,000 in a canister drive.
Fill the Boot became a nationwide effort the following year and since then, fire fighters across the country have garnered more than $425 million for MDA research, service and other programs.