Boots first

Maryville fire fighters raise funds for MDA

Andrew Puckett and Ken Wade of the Maryville Fire Fighters Association Local 4053 stand with boots in hand by a Thank-You sign. The fire fighters helped raise funds for Jerry’s Kids and MDA.

Andrew Puckett and Ken Wade of the Maryville Fire Fighters Association Local 4053 stand with boots in hand by a Thank-You sign. The fire fighters helped raise funds for Jerry’s Kids and MDA.

Ken Wade, left, holds a retired firemans boot, is posted by the watermelons.

Ken Wade, left, holds a retired firemans boot, is posted by the watermelons.

Taylor Huffman fills the boot for the MDA with help from Andrew Puckett.

Taylor Huffman fills the boot for the MDA with help from Andrew Puckett.

During the weekend of Aug. 7-9, members of the Maryville Fire Fighters Association (MFFA) helped save lives by standing outside the Maryville Wal-Mart with an empty boot.

The old firemen’s boots are used to gather donations from benevolent shoppers on behalf of Jerrys Kids and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Since 1954, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has partnered with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to raise money for research programs and outpatient clinics benefiting people suffering from more than 40 neuromuscular diseases. It may seem less dramatic than pulling victims out of fiery buildings, but it undoubtedly saves lives, and does so on a large scale.

Fill the Boot events like the one held the Maryville Wal-Mart on Hwy 411 have helped the more than 280,000 participating IAFF members and other firefighters in the US and Canada raise more than $300 million over the last 55 years for MDAs cause.

Firefighters are so inspirational they never tire of helping MDA enhance the lives of area children and adults with neuromuscular diseases, said Brian Charles, MDA Chapter President. This year especially, we want to take every opportunity to let the community know how important they are to our programs.

Last year, the Maryville Fire Fighters Association - Local 4053 raised about $470, and for this year they set the ambitious target of $1,000. After the first two days of the event, however, they had easily cleared $900, and by the end of the weekend had raised a total of $1,700.

Firefighter Andrew Puckett attributes this years success to relocating the event to Wal-Mart, as well as holding it over Tennessees tax-free weekend, when clothes, computers and school supplies were not subject to sales taxes.

The Knoxville District Office of MDA has clinics at UT Hospital in Knoxville and Northside Hospital in Johnson City to treat and provide support services to patients with diseases like ALS/Lou Gehrigs Disease. The funds raised will also support MDAs summer camps for children, professional and public health education, and other programs.

The MFFA -Local 4053 firefighters sometimes work with other groups and individuals to raise money, and want to recognize the efforts of Bob Johnson, a dedicated local advocate for MDA who himself has a form of Muscular Dystrophy known as Friedreichs Ataxia.

The IAFF is also the largest sponsor of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, contributing $23.5 million in 2006. The telethon, perhaps the most widely-recognized activity of the MDA, will be held this year on Sept. 6 and 7 at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and televised nationally. For more information about Fill the Boot fundraisers or about MDAs programs, contact the MDA office in Knoxville at 865-588-1632 or visit http://www.mda.org/home.htm.

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