Families, firefighters and other local supporters joined together Thursday to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the kick-off event of this year’s Fill the Boot Campaign.
The kick-off, held at Fairfax County Fire Station 5, is part of the Labor Day weekend events organized by the Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics in conjunction with the Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department, the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications, Greater Washington Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Subway Restaurants.
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2068 has been raising money during the weekend campaign for 20 years. Seven of those 20 years, Local 2068 has been in the top three in the nation, competing with Los Angeles and Houston.
Members of Local 2068 collected more than $435,000 for Greater Washington MDA during last year’s Labor Day Weekend campaign. This year, their goal is to raise $475,000 that will help with medical care and summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy.
“Fill the Boot is our largest event. Our budget for Washington MDA is $1.8 million each year, and about $500,000 of it is raised by Fairfax County,” said Nadine Pottinga, executive director of Greater Washington MDA.
The firefighters do everything they can during the four-day campaign to raise as much money as possible, including starting a bit of competition.
“The station goal is to always raise as much as possible for the kids,” said Smith Banks, a hazardous materials technician with Station No. 40. “It’s always a good thing, and there’s competition between stations and between different shifts.”
Captain Fred Brandell of No. 5 agreed with Smith, saying, “We just try to do the best for the kids.” Smith said the event is a great opportunity to talk to people and help a cause at the same time.
For the next four days, firefighters will be stationed at different intersections throughout Fairfax County, including West Ox Road and Fair Lakes, raising money for Greater Washington MDA.
“They’re a part of our family,” said Pottinga. “So we ask our citizens to look out for them and help them fill their boots.”