While Copperas Cove firefighters were the ones roaming three intersections last weekend collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, they acknowledge the fundraiser would be fruitless without residents.
“We can’t do it without the citizens,” said Fire Chief Sean Hughes. “They’re phenomenal.”
The department’s goal was to raise more than its 2011 total of around $10,000. Three days of collections starting last Friday yielded more than $11,000 in just cash donations.
“Over time, people see the firefighters with boots and know it’s a fundraiser,” said Scott Howard, firefighter and president of Copperas Cove’s Professional Fire Fighters Association. “Some still don’t know it’s for kids in Coryell County.”
Various shifts of firefighters set up at the South Farm-to-Market 116 and U.S. Highway 190; Constitution Drive and Highway 190; and Avenue B and North Farm-to-Market 116 intersections to collect donations.
All donations collected go to the MDA with much of the money raised by departments in Central Texas staying in the area to benefit local families, a news release stated.
“It seemed like a lot of people were really willing to help out MDA,” said Mark DiGiacomo, a firefighter and paramedic who now has three years of fundraising for MDA under his belt. “A lot of generous citizens offer money and help us out.”
Muscular dystrophy refers to a range of inherited disorders that result in muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue with time. The tradition of firefighters across the country supporting MDA with fundraisers started in 1954, when a Boston man turned to his friend, a firefighter, for help when his two sons were diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
The fire station staff went door to door and collected $5,000 for the children, and learned how many people were affected by muscular disease in the process.
“Texas firefighters are in the lead,” said Kristen Wheeler, executive director of the MDA Heart of Texas Chapter, “regardless of whether or not they’re affected by MDA.”
Since 2007, the Copperas Cove fire department has raised more than $46,000 for the charity, including this year’s total. Funds raised go to support research on treatments and cures for muscular disorders, as well as provide for treatments, purchase and repair of medical equipment and to support a camp for children with muscular dystrophy disorders in Meridian, Texas.
“It helps tremendously,” said Wheeler of CCFD’s contributions. “It helps provide services to families right here in Central Texas. We’re so grateful to the fire department and the citizens of Copperas Cove for making that possible.”
Fill the Boot campaigns are run by firefighters in cities across the country, which make up the top contributors to MDA, according to the release.
“This event is and always has been near and dear to firefighters across the country,” said Hughes. “It’s not just the Firefighters Association. We have some who belong to the association and some who don’t, but they all participate equally.”