AFD looking to Fill the Boot; Proceeds benefit children with muscle-debilitating diseases

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Austin Fire Department Local 598 is once again showing its support for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) as its members kick off their annual Fill the Boot fundraising campaign to raise critical funds to help transform the lives of kids and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases.

Beginning today and running through Friday, members of the AFD and their family’s will volunteer their time to spread awareness and collect funds to help sustain MDA’s local services.

The community can find firefighters with boots in hand at the following intersections from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday:

  • Oakland Avenue East and First Street Northeast
  • Fourth Street and First Drive Northwest
  • Eight Avenue and 14th Street Northwest

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Firefighters will be asking drivers, walkers and any who pass by to make donations to the MDA. Funds raised will provide the MDA with vital resources to advance their mission of driving innovations in science and care for the neuromuscular community. Contributions have helped fund groundbreaking research and life-enhancing programs, such as state-of-the-art support groups and Care Centers, including the MDA Care Center at Mayo in Rochester, Gillette Children’s Specialty in Saint Paul as well as University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

They also help send more than 140 local kids to “the best week of the year” at MDA summer camp at Camp Courage – all at no cost to their families.

Austin Firefighters Local 598’s partnership with the MDA is part of a much larger nationwide effort to Fill the boot until a cure is found. According to AFD firefighter and engineer Jim Halsey, the AFD has been participating since 2009.

“Every penny helps,” he said. “We get a lot of handfuls of change and it all adds up.”

Last year, the AFD had a record-setting year, raising over $21,000 over the course of three days.

“We are thrilled to be working with Austin firefighters for another year of Fill the Boot to help provide the funds needed to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that severely limit strength and mobility,” said MDA Executive Director Gina Olson. “The dedication of these firefighters to MDA’s mission is unwavering, taking a pledge year after year to spread awareness and collect donations in their boots until a cure is found. After last year’s record breaking year of fundraising we know that their devotion to our families will make this year’s drive a success.”

To add to the incentive, the AFD holds a friendly contest with other fire departments in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas to see who can raise the highest amount per union firefighter. The winner gets possession of the Golden Axe, a symbol of their commitment to helping the MDA that they can proudly display.

Halsey said the Golden Axe has not left the Austin Fire Station since the first time the AFD participated in 2009.

“It’s going to such a great cause and that’s why we do it,” he said.