Fire Fighters Across the Country will be Filling the Boot for MDA this Labor Day Weekend

MDA State Goodwill Ambassador from Illinois Ryan Karlin gets some love from the Chicago Fire Department

This weekend, as you head out to BBQs and the beach, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter fire fighters collecting for MDA at intersections, shopping malls and town centers in your community. That’s because members of more than 700 local fire departments across the country, led by the International Association of Fire Fighters, are set to kick off the busiest Fill the Boot fundraising weekend of the year.

Their goal? Raise $5.6 million this Labor Day weekend to help MDA find urgently needed treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that severely limit strength and mobility.

For 62 years, fire fighters have been fanning out across cities with boots in hand as part of this honored tradition.

Their efforts have had a serious impact. “Thanks to the fire fighters – one boot at a time and one generous donor at a time – we are on the brink of life-changing progress and breakthroughs that can’t come soon enough for MDA families,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks.

Those dollars everyday Americans put in fire fighters’ boots go directly into research programs. Just yesterday, MDA announced 25 new research, development and research infrastructure grants totaling nearly $7 million targeted to make an impact on life-threatening neuromuscular diseases in its program.

Jessica Hetzel, MDA’s 2016 Michigan State Goodwill Ambassador, visits Warren Fire Fighters Union Local 1383 Station 2.

Contributions also help provide care for kids and adults at a nationwide network of more than 150 multidisciplinary MDA Care Centers, including 43 specialized MDA ALS Care Centers. The funds also provide individuals with services and support in hometowns across America, including sending nearly 4,000 kids with muscular dystrophy to “the best week of the year” at MDA Summer Camp in 2016.

IAFF support for MDA began in 1954 when the organization committed by proclamation to support MDA until a cure is found, and the organization’s unwavering commitment to MDA has remained steadfast to this day. The IAFF raised $100,000 for MDA in 1955, and $1 million in 1970, and fire fighters continue to raise the bar in their fundraising efforts. In 2015, more than 100,000 fire fighters participated in Fill the Boot events across the country and raised $25.5 million. To date the IAFF has raised $583 million for MDA.

Reflecting on the importance of fire fighters’ fundraising efforts to MDA’s mission, MDA CEO Steve Derks concluded, “I want to express my deepest gratitude for the unwavering generosity of the IAFF in support of our mission. So if you see a fire fighter collecting this weekend, we’d be very grateful if you’d donate in person or online.”