Filling the boot for MDA

Published 12:23 am Saturday, June 13, 2009

An unusual sight greeted Wal-Mart shoppers as they approached the store’s automated, sliding glass doors on Friday afternoon — Selma firefighters clutching single boots to their chests.

The unusual sight is not that uncommon. It is part of the annual “Fill-the-Boot” fundraising campaign, a joint effort between the Muscular Dystrophy Association and fire departments across the country.

According to MDA District Director Angie Jordan, the program was started by two firefighters in Nevada. As the name indicates, funds are raised by donations into a firefighter boot.

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“It goes for families and children with neuromuscular disease,” said Jordan. “With the Fill-the-Boot program, all we’re asking for is a couple of bucks or change. We’re just asking for a couple of dollars here and there.”

The Selma Fire Department began participating in the drive seven years ago, and has experienced varied success. The department has raised as much as $6,000 in the past, and hopes to surpass last year’s total of $3,000. The officers worked in 1 1/2 hour shifts from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

By the time Selma firefighter Chris Horton, who has participated in the fundraiser since its first year, began his shift at 2 p.m., two boots had been filled and his boot was at the halfway point.

“You have to feel for them. Everybody has a weak spot for children,” said Horton. “Any time you see a child in need, it makes you choke up.”

Horton is the father of two asthmatic children. Like most parents would react to the news, Horton was worried about his children’s health and the cost of their treatment and prescriptions. However, he said, working with the fundraiser has given him a different perspective.

“It’s a good cause because anytime you think you have problems, you don’t have to look far to see someone that has it worse off than you,” said Horton. “You don’t have to make a trip very far to see that a lot of people have it a lot worse off than you do.”

The campaign is expected to continue each Friday and Saturday for the duration of the summer and proceeds will be used for all necessary care required by children with muscular dystrophy. This includes flu shots, doctor visits, research, group sessions, consultations, clinic visits and wheelchair and leg brace repair.