Firefighters ignite support to extinguish muscular dystrophy
By Reggie Ellis
tulare county – The San Joaquin Valley, and more specifically Tulare County, remains one of the poorest regions in the nation. But when it comes to giving the few extra dollars they have, Tulare County’s firefighters and residents are one of the best.
During its annual “Fill The Boot” fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) on Oct. 28, members of the Tulare County Professional Fire Fighters L4757 raised $37,064. Candice Burns, executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association – Central California Chapter, said that was good for eighth place in the entire state during a Valentine’s Day report to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.
“They raised thousands more than some of the richest communities in the state, like Marin, Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties,” Burns said. “Our communities in Tulare County are so giving. I’m so honored and privileged to be a part of it.”
Tulare County Professional Fire Fighters L4757, a local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), concentrated their efforts on Tulare County fire stations throughout the area. Station 20 in Doyle Colony alone raised $5,523. Burns said the firefighters of Tulare County have raised more funds in each of the last three years for a total of nearly $100,000.
“These local heroes still find the time to serve their community and not just by responding to emergencies, but also in philanthropy,” Burns said. “And to see ag workers drop a dollar from their car ashtray is truly inspiring.”
She was joined at the meeting by Fire Capt. Hank Seguin, president of the Tulare County Firefighters Association, who along with Fire Lt. Erik Withrow coordinated the 2016 Fill the Boot campaign in Tulare County. Capt. Seguin said the association also raised $500 for Kaweah Delta Health Care District to do health screenings for women who do not have insurance. Also in attendance were Tulare County Fire Chief Charlie Norman and retired Cal Fire Tulare Unit Chief Paul Marquez.
“The firefighters in Tulare County are outstanding people and close friends of mine,” Burns said. “Some of the best people you’ll find are right here in our own backyard.”
In addition to the countywide chapter of the IAA, several city departments and volunteer associations independently raised thousands of dollars. Both the Tulare and Porterville City Fire Associations raised $6,650 and $7,022, respectively while the county’s two smallest fire departments, the Woodlake Fire District and Farmersville Fire Department, raised $2,234 and $3,387, respectively.
Funds raised through Fill The Boot efforts help MDA – Central California fund our Local youth summer camp at Tuolumne Trails in Groveland, Calif. as well as Resource Groups, Care Centers, Medical Equipment Loan, as well as neuromuscular disease research. Burns said Tulare County has sent more than 124 children suffering from muscular dystrophy to the summer camp.
Additionally, MDA provides the following services to local families free of charge: monthly support groups, medical clinics, loan and repair medical equipment, and MDA is the largest private sponsor of neuromuscular disease research in the world. MDA provides a pediatric clinic at Children’s Hospital of Central California, an adult clinic and ALS clinic at UCSF, Fresno.
As the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s largest national sponsor, the IAFF fuels MDA’s mission to find treatments and cures for life-threatening muscle diseases. IAFF represents more than 300,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation’s population.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases.
Visit mda.org and follow them on facebook.com/MDAnational and Twitter @MDAnews.