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MDA Fill the Boot set for weekend

By Staff | Mar 5, 2019

Fire Chief Jeff Pawul

The Captiva Island Fire Control District will host its annual MDA Fill the Boot starting on March 8 and running through the weekend to raise funds and awareness for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The crews will be stationed at Captiva Drive and Andy Rosse Lane during lunchtime hours.

“It’s been a charity that’s been around for a long time with the support of the fire departments,” Fire Chief Jeff Pawul said, adding that the unions and MDA partner together for the donation drive.

A member of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1826, which covers much of Southwest Florida, the district and other agencies’ efforts helped to raise $185,207 in 2018.

“The amount we raised for the MDA last year was $3,463,” he said of Captiva.

He noted that the fundraising goal for Local 1826 for 2019 is $200,000.

The drive aims “to give muscular dystrophy the boot” by raising awareness of and funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The International Association of Fire Fighters has been supporting the MDA since 1954. Both the islands’ fire districts have taken part in the drive for several years.

In 2017, more than 100,000 firefighters participated in Fill the Boot drives around the country and raised $24 million. To date, the IAFF has raised approximately $607 million to benefit the MDA.

“Everybody’ll be out there,” Pawul said of his team.

“Everybody will have the traditional fire boot that everybody can use to make whatever donation they feel,” he said, noting that sometimes it is an ashtray of change and other times it is over $100 cash.

“It’s whatever you can or want to do for the day,” Pawul added.

The fire crews will walk up and down the street with the boots.

“We’ll try not to hold up traffic too long,” he said, noting that those who donate get a sticker.

Pawul explained that response times for calls for service will not be impacted.

“That’s one of the reasons we do it at that intersection. It’s centrally located and it’s 30 steps from our fire truck,” he said. “If we get a call, the guys will drop what they’re doing and run that call.”

“It’s not going to hinder any emergency response from the district at all,” Pawul added.

Those who come across the crews are invited to donate.

“All this money, whether it’s a lot or a little, it does continue to support the MDA,” he said. “It helps kids and adults who suffer from this disease.”

Proceeds from Fill the Boot go toward helping to find needed treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that severely limit strength and mobility to families in Southwest Florida. The funding also helps to empower families with life-enhancing resources and support.

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.

For more information on the MDA Fill the Boot, visit firefighters.mda.org.

For more information about the MDA, visit www.mda.org.