NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters took to the streets to "Fill the Boot" for the Muscular Dystrophy Association last weekend and raised more than $4,200 to help find treatments and cures for neuromuscular disease.
Members of Local 1781 of the International Association of Fire Fighters beat last year's Fill the Boot by more than $1,000 in their annual fundraising pledge to support MDA's vital research programs and the its 200 medical clinics nationwide.
"We deeply appreciate the work firefighters in North Adams do for the MDA," said state MDA fundraising coordinator Will Southall. "It does make a difference to all the people and families here who are living with muscle disease. They see these American heroes going out to support them, and it tells them they have strong partners standing by their side. This accomplishment from Local 1781 is fantastic."
Firefighters are in a position to put their lives on the line battling blazes or coming to the aid of the injured. MDA representatives said firefighters have a sense of compassion for and service to the community that is demonstrated through their commitment to MDA.
"We like to help people, that's who we are," said firefighter Robert Patenaude, Fill the Boot coordinator for the North Adams Fire Department. "We know it's a good thing to be in the fight against the muscle diseases that cause so much pain and suffering. We are part of a decades-old tradition to beat these diseases, and we're not going to quite until the battle is won."
IAFF became the first national sponsor for MDA in 1954 and, over the years, firefighters have raised millions of dollars to help improve and enhance the lives of those living with neuromuscular disease. Firefighters have raised money for MDA through their participation in the annual Fill the Boot campaign, as well as by sponsoring golf and softball tournaments. Funds from the Fill the Boot campaign also help send 3,500 kids to MDA summer camp for a free week and many firefighters contribute some of their vacation time each year to volunteer at MDA camps across the country.
Patenaude also wanted recognize Karen Boyer and the staff at NBT Bank in North Adams for waiving fees from the coin machine to ensure that all the proceeds went to the MDA.
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