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Fill the Boot campaign to step off

By Staff | Mar 22, 2018

Firefighters will take to five intersections beginning today in Cape Coral to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Southwest Florida.

Fundraising Coordinator Cindy Nichols said the Fill the Boot event began in 1954 by the International Association of Fire Fighters after they decided to partner with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to raise money until a cure was found. She said firefighters are the No. 1 supporter both nationally and locally for MDA.

The Local 2424 Cape Coral Professional Fire Fighters have been involved for quite some time.

“Every station participates,” Nichols said of all 10 fire stations that stand at five intersections throughout the Cape.

The intersections include Del Prado Boulevard and Cape Coral Parkway; Veterans Parkway and Santa Barbara Boulevard; Chiquita Boulevard and Cape Coral Parkway; Pine Island Road and Burnt Store Road and Del Prado Boulevard and Diplomat Parkway.

“Any amount in the boot helps. It makes a huge difference. It is helping our community,” Nichols said.

The firefighters are splitting their shifts at the intersections from 9 a.m. to noon and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“Every firefighter will be doing Fill the Boot by the end of the weekend,” Nichols said.

The goal this year is to raise $30,000 from Friday, March 23, Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25.

“Last year we had a rain day, so a little lower than usual,” she said of the $25,961 2017 Fill the Boot total. “I have high hopes.”

The money raised goes towards a MDA Care Center at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, MDA Summer Camp and research. Nichols said the MDA Care Center provides services for all of Southwest Florida.

“In our area we have over 600 families,” she said who are registered with them. “People don’t know how common it is. Or that ALS is part of muscular dystrophy.”

The Care Center has a neurologist who specializes in muscular dystrophy, as well as a team of doctors who specialize in nutrition, occupational and physical therapy.

“We provide a place to see everyone in one visit,” Nichols said.

The MDA Camp, she explained, provides the most amazing week for youths between the ages of 8 to 18 years old. It’s a great week, she said because the kids can do anything due to the camp being wheelchair adaptive.

Camper can do such activities as swing, zip line, go through rope courses and swim.

“They can feel like they can live life in an unlimited way. They can go and not feel different. It’s a place where they can fit in,” she said of the camp.

In addition, it gives the parents a much needed break. Nichols said a lot of the children are on breathing treatments and feedings at night, and some children have to be turned every couple of hours.

The money raised is making a huge impact.

Nichols said six new treatments have been found in the last two years for muscular dystrophy.

“There has been more going on in the last two years . . . amazing the progress that MDA is making,” Nichols said.

In 1955 IAFF raised $100,000 for MDA. In 2017 $24 million was raised by more than 100,000 fire fighters participating in Fill the Boots events across the country.

For more information, contact Nichols at (239) 437-6900, or email her at cynichols@mdausa.org.