Despite rainy, cold weather on Saturday morning, Murrieta residents helped their Fire Department “Fill the Boot.”
The Murrieta Fire Department, assisted by youth fire explorers, collected $5,200 in cash donations during the annual campaign that benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association, according to a news release.
The rainy weather did not deter passing motorists from briefly stopping to drop money into boots held out by firefighters who lined the sidewalks near California Oaks Road and Interstate 15.
“The success of this drive is mainly due to the generosity of the citizens of the community,” stated Murrieta Fire Department spokesman Matt Corelli.
“This charity event provides money for research and treatment for individuals that suffer a broad range of neuromuscular diseases including ALS,” Corelli said.
“The Murrieta Fire Department takes pride in not only responding to emergencies, but being part of charity that raises money for those who so bravely battle health problems.”
Murrieta fire Capt. Rich “Red” Martinez has a lead role in organizing the annual event and serves as the department’s liaison with MDA, according to Corelli.
From MDA and International Association of Fire Fighters, here is a synopsis of the history of the fundraising effort:
The tradition began in 1952, when a father in desperate need ran to IAFF member George Graney’s Fire Engine Company 1 in South Boston. IAFF Local 718 immediately rounded up 20 fire fighters and set in motion a door-to-door canister drive that raised $5,000. In 1953, Graney launched a citywide fundraising campaign with the help of Boston fire fighters and made appeals across Massachusetts in behalf of children with muscular dystrophy.
Realizing the potential that fire fighters had to offer the cause and their excellent image in the community, Graney approached and persuaded IAFF members to support MDA. In August 1954, Graney raised his voice at the IAFF’s biennial convention in Miami and proposed that MDA be established as its “charity of choice.” MDA Goodwill Ambassador Luis Grant, who had a form of muscular dystrophy, gave an emotional presentation to IAFF members, helping to gain unanimous approval of Graney’s proclamation. This marked the beginning of a formal bond between the IAFF and MDA.
Since then, IAFF has emerged as the single-largest sponsor of MDA, contributing more than $500 million since 1954 largely through the signature MDA Fill the Boot campaign. IAFF has renewed that commitment to MDA under the leadership of General President Harold A. Schaitberger, who also is an MDA national vice president. Nearly 300,000 IAFF members in the United States and Canada continue to break their fundraising record year after year — all to benefit kids and adults living with muscle disease.