$17k raised for Fill the Boot

Published 7:31 am Thursday, August 26, 2010

Austin firefighter Terry Peterson collects donations from a motorist during the MDA's Fill the Boot campaign in front of Austin High School. The campaign runs through today and into Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. both days. --Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

It took three days of hard work, a group of dedicated firefighters and the people of Austin to raise a record amount of donations for this year’s Fill the Boot campaign.

When all was said and done, the Austin Fire Department collected $17,000 worth of donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, all of which was placed in boots by passing motorists.

“They (firefighters) were very, very happy to hear that,” said Austin fire chief Mickey Healey.

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Firefighters spent Aug. 18-20 collecting donations in traditional firefighter boots at two Austin intersections: Oakland Avenue West and 12th Street Southwest, as well as Main Street and Fourth Avenue Northwest.

Last year — Austin’s first year participating — the fire department raised $14,000. That was enough for the department to receive national recognition and the “golden ax,” an award given to top fire departments throughout the country.

“They’re hoping that this puts them and the city of Austin on the rankings this year in comparison,” Healey said of the Golden Ax competition.

The Fill the Boot Campaign is a nation-wide fundraiser dedicated to the cause of fighting muscular dystrophy. Every year, fire departments from around the country gear up and head to the streets to raise donations. All donations are then pooled together and presented to the MDA during Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Telethon.

In addition to competing with fire departments throughout the nation, Austin will be watching to see how neighboring departments do, as well.

Albert Lea started their Fill the Boot campaign Wednesday, with the hopes of pulling through with enough donations to stay competitive with Austin.

Albert Lea Fire Department Lt. Al Schallock said he’d like to create a friendly competition between Albert Lea and Austin. The Albert Lea firefighters will wrap up their campaign Friday.

While the campaign certainly gives firefighters a reason to compete, Healey said the campaign creates a camaraderie among firefighters that’s unlike anything else.

“When you get the whole group together for a common cause, it shows we can go above and beyond,” Healey said.