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Sanibel fire set to take part in Annual MDA Fill the Boot

By Staff | Mar 5, 2019

Raising funds and awareness for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District will hold its annual MDA Fill the Boot starting on March 8 and running through the weekend.

Due to a city ordinance prohibiting the collection of donations at intersections, fire crews will have tables located at Bailey’s General Store, at 2477 Periwinkle Way, and Jerry’s, at 1700 Periwinkle Way. In addition, a firefighter will swing by the Sanibel Island Farmers Market on March 10 at City Hall.

They will work in two shifts over the three days, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m.

Lt. John DiMaria called taking part in the drive a tradition for the district.

“We like to get out and make contact with the community and talk to everybody,” he said. “And it’s a great benefit, it’s a great cause to collect money for – they do such a great job for the kids.”

“We’ve been doing this for many years,” DiMaria added. “We’re all very proud of being part of it.”

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.

He reported that Sanibel raised about $2,400 last year and $4,000 in 2017.

“We want to try to exceed either one of them,” DiMaria said of the district’s goal this year.

The total fundraising mark 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.

As for the Sanibel crew, they will be set up with tables, boots and stickers.

“There’ll be firefighters there,” he said. “And the truck will be there.”

DiMaria noted that families like to take photos with the truck.

“They can obviously contribute as much as they want,” he said of donating. “Any little bit helps, whether it be change or $20. It all goes to a good cause, so whatever somebody can contribute is deeply appreciated.”

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

“The guys at the tables will be responding to any calls that come in,” he said, adding that if a call comes through a boot is left behind for any donations. “The trucks will still be in service.”

Those who come across the crews are invited to donate.

“I’d like to thank everybody in advance,” DiMaria said. “Any little bit helps and it’s much appreciated from us and from the organization (MDA) itself.”

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.