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Marysville firefighters ‘Fill the Boot’

From left, motorist Zack Bower helps fill the boot of Marysville firefighter Basil Bailey on Grove Street Aug. 21 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, motorist Zack Bower helps fill the boot of Marysville firefighter Basil Bailey on Grove Street Aug. 21 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Firefighters from the Marysville Fire District Local 3219 were working the intersection of State Avenue and Grove Street Aug. 21-22, asking motorists to “Fill the Boot” for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Marysville firefighters have been supporting the MDA with “Fill the Boot” fundraisers for close to a decade, according to Marysville firefighter and Local 3219 member Mark Cook, one of the coordinators of the event this year.

Midway through their collection drive Aug. 21, Cook estimated that nearly $4,900 had been donated to the MDA by Marysville motorists. The Marysville firefighters generated approximately $18,000 for the MDA last year and Cook explained that they hoped to beat that number this year.

“We always get more traffic on Saturdays,” Cook said Aug. 21. “This has been surprisingly slow, even for a Friday.”

The North Puget Sound Chapter of the MDA serves 465 families in Snohomish County as they battle neuromuscular diseases, and MDA Fundraising Coordinator Eddy Lindenstein noted that the money that Marysville motorists drop into firefighters’ boots tends to stay local to their area.

“Last year, Forbes and Money magazines ranked the MDA 23rd in the nation in efficiency for non-profits,” Lindenstein said. “The high average for non-profits is that about 60 cents out of every dollar goes directly to the charity. With the MDA, it’s more than 91 cents out of every dollar.”

Last year, the International Association of Fire Fighters raised more than $26 million for the MDA, making the grand total for the 55-year tradition close to $375 million, to help children and adults with muscle-deteriorating diseases since 1954. Proceeds raised through the Aug. 21-22 State Avenue and Grove Street campaign will help support MDA services and research programs, including transportation services, support groups and local clinics.

“We find it rewarding to be out here, collecting money for a great charity like the MDA,” said Cook, who noted that firefighters have also served as camp counselors at the MDA’s summer camps. “Seeing that money go to good use is why we do this. Our community is very supportive of this cause, and not even because we have more people suffering from muscular dystrophy.”

For Joan Beals, an MDA volunteer and Arlington resident, annual MDA events such as the “Fill the Boot” and “Lock-Up” fundraisers represent an opportunity for her to express her gratitude, not only to the MDA itself for the care they provided for her son, but also to those who have made the MDA’s programs possible.

Beals’ son, Jason, was a recipient of the MDA’s services from 1977 when he was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease, until about five years ago when he passed away. Even though Jason Beals no longer benefits from their programs, his mother has continued to pitch in for the MDA because she’ll never forget how their staff members maintained a one-on-one relationship with her and made sure that she was never alone in her efforts to tend to her son’s needs, even when they were relatively minor concerns about how to make him more comfortable.

Joan fondly recalled Jason’s experiences at MDA summer camps where he was able to “just be an everyday kid,” with children similar to him and she appreciates the chance to meet the people who make these donations and say “thank you” to them.

“I’ll be here for the MDA until I draw my last breath,” Beals laughed.

Lindenstein added that the next local fundraiser for the MDA is the “Stride and Ride,” kicking off at the Tulalip Amphitheatre Sept. 26. For more information, log onto www.joinmda.org.

The MDA is the non-profit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The MDA also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.

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