Members of the International Association of Firefighters were hard at work in McKenna over the weekend as they accepted donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Volunteers were present at the intersection of state Route 507 and state Route 702 on June 3 and June 4.
Adam Durham, a firefighter and member of the International Association of Firefighters, said the organization has partnered with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for at least 65 years.
The “Fill the Boot” fundraiser isn’t new to Durham or the McKenna area, but he said it means a lot to the volunteers who collect donations.
“It’s something that we’ve been doing. We haven’t done it consistently these last few years, but we wanted to get back out here,” Durham told the Nisqually Valley News on June 4. “We’ve always had good success in getting good contributions in this area. The people out here are pretty charitable.”
It’s estimated that around 250,000 Americans are affected by muscular dystrophy, according to the National Organization for Rare Diseases. Muscular dystrophy is caused by mutations of the DMD gene on the X chromosome, according to their website.
“We’ve had people affected by muscular dystrophy out here benefiting from the event, as well as one of our own members. They actually benefited from the money that comes from the (Muscular Dystrophy Association),” Durham said. “We’re always happy to raise these kinds of funds because you never know when it could come back to help you some day.”
Durham said most of the volunteers that are present during the fundraiser serve in the local area.
“I started volunteering in 2005 and got hired in 2011, but we were doing Fill the Boot that whole time. We’ve been out here for quite a few years,” Durham said. “It feels very rewarding.”
After assisting with the fundraiser for many years, Durham said he has his fair share of memorable moments. The one memory that sticks out most happened when volunteers raised enough money to purchase an electric wheelchair for a girl with muscular dystrophy.
“It gives you something that you know you’re working toward. The Muscular Dystrophy Association was able to buy her a top-of-the-line powered wheelchair to make her life easier,” Durham said. “That’s what’s always been memorable to me: knowing the money we’re collecting for people has gone toward helping people live better lives.”
While the fundraiser is typically a heartwarming experience for Durham, he said the reaction from the community can be a “mixed bag.” He understands some people may grow frustrated after having to wait in traffic longer, but he said the overall consensus is usually positive.
“We got so many donations yesterday, and to me, that shows more positives than negatives coming out of this,” Durham said. “Some people think that this money goes to the fire department, but no, this is all going to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”
To find out more about how to get involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, go online to www.mda.org/get-involved.
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