Lifestyle

‘Bail’ raises funds for MDA

TULALIP — An estimated 50 local “jailbirds” served their sentences at Bob’s Burgers and Brew April 29, but the restaurant was happy to have them, because the “prisoners” were part of the Muscular Dystrophy Association “Lock-Up” fundraiser for the Marysville-Tulalip community.

Chontelle Mackner, executive director for the North Sound Chapter of the MDA, explained that the “jailbirds” were all volunteers, who had agreed to be confined to the restaurant for periods of one hour each, while they worked to raise “bail” of $1,600 per person, which is enough to send two children with muscular dystrophy to the MDA’s special summer camp.

“My favorite part of my job is that all the money we raise stays local,” Mackner said.

The day’s pool of volunteer jailbirds was drawn from a number of community leaders, who all had their mugshots taken in a mock prison cell, complete with striped convict shirts, before they were given “gourmet bread and water,” actually consisting of free full-course meals served by the restaurant. Marysville firefighters picked up the jailbirds from their homes and places of work, and from there the jailbirds were tasked with calling and texting anyone they could, who would donate enough “bail” to spring them.

Dana Mulligan had raised $1,000 before she was “arrested” by leaning on business associates whom she knew were doing relatively well. She and Amy Howell both relied on online social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter to provide repeated reminders to prospective donors, although Howell had only raised $200 before her own arrest.

“It was easier to raise money a few years ago,” said Howell, who was joined at the Lock-Up by her mother and fellow jailbird, JoAnn Sewell, co-director of the Marysville Community Food Bank. “I’m just thankful that all my kids are healthy.”

Ken Cage, president of the Marysville Historical Society, likewise reported a number of unreturned phone calls during his stint in “jail.” He nonetheless raised approximately $490 through his MDA website and $723.93 through direct mail solicitations through a list he’d compiled of those who had bailed him out in the past.

“A lot of people are just waiting to be asked to do the right thing,” said Tom Albright, pastor of the Marysville United Methodist Church, in between making calls to raise his own bail. “This event gives those people a chance to make a difference.”

Mackner acknowledged that last year’s Lock-Up drew more than 70 jailbirds and had a fundraising goal of $30,000 for the day, while this year’s event raised an estimated $20,000.

“We’re very conscious of the impact of the economy,” Mackner said. “We’re also dealing with the fact that muscular dystrophy is not as common as something like multiple sclerosis, so we focus on making them aware of the people who are diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and all the services that we provide them. They’re real people, and with the support of the community, we can make a real difference in their lives.”

Marysville firefighters will be “filling the boot” again for the MDA June 4-5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the intersection of Grove Street and State Avenue.

For information on the North Sound Chapter of the MDA, call 425-259-4078, or e-mail cmackner@mdausa.org.

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