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Firemen ask you to 'Fill the Boot'

Posted: August 28, 2011 - 9:07pm

Volunteer members of the Capital City Fire and Rescue are working with the International Association of Firefighters Local 4303 to raise money for muscular dystrophy in the seventh annual “Fill the Boot” campaign.

Firemen will be accompanied by a fire truck and passing a large fire boot among the public at the Superbear Market, Costco parking lot and the Tram parking lot on Friday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

Last year the CCFR volunteers raised more than $5,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Alaska.

“Everybody gets a kick out of seeing us pass the boot,” CCFR Firefighter EMT Noah Jenkins said. “And the kids get to see the fire engine and climb on board. People drive up and give us everything from change in their ashtrays to $100 bills. And the whole gamut of donations are accepted.”

In Anchorage, firefighters wait at traffic lights and approach vehicles when the red light shines.

“Unfortunately in Juneau we have a no panhandling law,” Jenkins said. “So we are grateful for these organizations that allow us to park.”

Sally Dial, the fundraising coordinator for the Alaska chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, stated that Fill The Boot raises more than $3 million nationwide each year for research, treatments, and clinics.

“The money that is raised during Fill The Boot in Alaska stays in Alaska,” Dial emphasized. “It is really important to us. We are constantly doing works all year.”

Dial said as many as 20 Fill The Boots are organized each year alone, from July through October.

Money raised helps a monthly MDA clinic at the Alaska Neurology Center in Anchorage and pays for the cost of flying patients in from around the state. Funds also cover an annual summer camp in Chugiak with no cost to clients and their families. There are also monthly support groups.

MDA also has a Loan Closet, which takes in donated power and manual chairs, crutches, bath equipment and similar items. The items are repaired or serviced and then loaned out to clients at no cost.

Roughly 150 people are living with muscular dystrophy in Alaska. The MDA covers 43 different types of MD and the disease is mostly inherited.

MDA healthcare services coordinator Kim Kampen works with clients, clinics, support groups, and summer camps involving MD.

“It is a muscle wasting disease,” Kampen said of MD. “So a lot of it affects mobility. There are different types. Adults will sometimes have trouble with their feet with certain types, while kids with more severe types you notice at the early stages clumsiness or trouble with mobility. A lot of our clients end up in wheel chairs or power chairs. Several of our clients you might not know they had MD if they just had trouble with their feet. They can get around pretty well but they have some sort of limping.”

Kampen said the disease can also affect the lungs and patients need assistance in breathing. Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named after Hall of Fame baseball great, is a form of MD.

“Fill the Boot monies really do stay in Alaska to help local families,” Kampen said. “Even though we are a nationwide company, the money stays here in Alaska.”

MDA donations can be accepted anytime, either by check to the MDA in Anchorage (121 West Fireweed Lane Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99503), or taken to any Juneau fire station. Donators can also call 1-800-FIGHTMD (344-4863) during the labor day telethon Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight on KTUU.

“If you see a firefighter out there holding a boot and with a fire engine, that will be us,” Jenkins said. “The idea is to fill those boots up for the MDA.”

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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