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Sanibel, Captiva fire districts to take part in annual Fill the Boot

By Staff | Mar 7, 2018

Southwest Florida Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Local 1826 will host its annual Fill the Boot drive starting on March 9 to help raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

From Friday and through the weekend, members of the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District and the Captiva Island Fire Control District will be accepting donations as part of the fundraising campaign.

Starting on Friday, the drive will run through the weekend.

“It’s been a tradition for the fire service to take part,” John DiMaria, the coordinator for the Sanibel team, said. “It’s well worth the money to donate, for sure – the more who donate, the better.”

Sanibel fire crews will be set up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day at the entrance to Jerry’s Foods, at 1700 Periwinkle Way, and at the entrances and exits to Bailey’s General Store, at 2477 Periwinkle Way. On March 11, they will also be at the Farmer’s Market at City Hall, at 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel.

The Captiva fire crew will be set up at the intersection of Andy Rosse and Captiva Drive.

“This is always a great fundraiser for MDA and the children that benefit directly from the event,” Captiva Fire Chief Jeff Pawul said.

Last year, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1826 raised over $170,000 for local families battling muscle disease and ALS, making it No. 1 in the state of Florida and No. 12 in the country.

The goal this year is to raise $200,000.

“For more than 60 years, firefighters have stood on the front lines with MDA in the fight to free individuals, and the families who love them, from the harm of these life-threatening muscle diseases,” Erin Randall, executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Southwest Florida, said in a prepared statement. “Each year, Local 1826 firefighters dedicate countless hours of their time participating in Fill the Boot drives and at MDA Summer Camp. We’re grateful for their steadfast drive and uncommon caring toward the kids and adults we serve and look forward to working together once again to make this Fill the Boot season a huge success.”

As its largest national partner, the IAFF fuels MDA’s mission to find research breakthroughs across diseases, care for youth and adults from day one, and provide families with services and support.

In addition to Fill the Boot, firefighter contributions from year-round events help support MDA’s efforts to raise awareness and provide professional and public education on neuromuscular diseases.

Contributions also help to fund research and programs, such as support groups and Care Centers, including the MDA Care Center at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. They also help send more than 30 local children to an MDA summer camp at Florida Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla, at no cost to families.

In 2015, more than 100,000 firefighters participated in Fill the Boot drives around the country and raised $25.5 million. To date, the IAFF has raised approximately $583 million for the MDA.

For more information about the MDA, visit: www.mda.org/. For more about the Southwest Florida MDA office, visit on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/MDASouthwestFlorida.