The Tradition of Fill the Boot

La version française suit.

Over the years Canadian Fire Fighters, our biggest supporters have helped Muscular Dystrophy Canada to continue to fund research, provide essential services and equipment to people affected by neuromuscular disorders.   Our long standing and strong partnership continues to be a historical pillar.  Throughout our history and to this day, Fire Fighters have been creative in their fundraising efforts.  Fire Fighters have had chicken wing eating contests, car washes, motorcycle rides but the most recognizable and used is the Fill the Boot campaign or the Fire Fighter Boot Toll.  Even with newer events like the Rooftop Campouts money is still largely collected in a Fire Fighter’s boot.

Below is a photo from the Muscular Dystrophy Reporter Spring Issue from 1966, showcasing the, “new amusing technique of receiving contributions.”

Band Concert FtB spring issue 1966 p3

The Fill the Boot has its roots dating back to the early 1950s in the Boston, Massachusetts area of the United States of America, a Fire Fighter came across a colleague who was with an old friend. The friend had two sons, both affected by neuromuscular disorders, who needed money for their care. With canisters in hand, the Fire Fighters raised $5,000. This grew Boston-wide, and during the International Association of Fire Fighters 22nd convention in 1954, the original fundraisers from Boston campaigned for the cause. The IAFF set up the partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which was also inherited by the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada soon after its founding.


La tradition des barrages routiers

Au cours des années, les pompiers canadiens, nos plus fidèles alliés, ont aidé Dystrophie musculaire Canada à financer la recherche et à fournir des services essentiels et des aides techniques aux personnes touchées par une maladie neuromusculaire. Ce partenariat de longue date continue d’être un pilier de notre histoire. Si, au fil des ans, les pompiers ont toujours fait preuve de beaucoup d’ingéniosité pour recueillir des fonds (concours de mangeurs d’ailes de poulet, lave-o-thons, tournées à moto, etc.), le moyen le plus souvent utilisé et le plus facilement reconnaissable est sans conteste le barrage routier. Même dans le cadre des plus récents événements-bénéfice, par exemple les campings sur le toit, c’est encore le barrage routier qui, le plus souvent, sert à récolter des fonds.

La photo ci-dessous, tirée du numéro du printemps 1966 du Muscular Dystrophy Reporter, montre cette « nouvelle technique amusante de recueillir les contributions ». (en anglais seulement)

Band Concert FtB spring issue 1966 p3

Les barrages routiers remontent au début des années 1950. Dans la région de Boston, au Massachusetts, un pompier rencontra un ami de longue date, lui aussi pompier, dont les deux garçons étaient atteints d’une maladie neuromusculaire. Le père ayant besoin d’argent pour payer leurs soins, les deux collègues se mirent à tendre leur tirelire aux passants et réussirent ainsi à recueillir la somme de 5 000 $. Très vite, cette pratique s’est répandue dans toute la ville et en 1954, lors du 22e congrès de l’International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), les deux pompiers de Boston firent campagne pour leur cause. L’IAFF s’est alors associée à la Muscular Dystrophy Association américaine pour se transférer par la suite à l’Association canadienne de la dystrophie musculaire, peu de temps après sa fondation.


Filling Boots in Sudbury


Fire Fighters organize events year-round and help raise funds in support of those affected by neuromuscular disorders.   The most successful fundraiser is the Fill the Boot.  Fire Fighters hold out their boots in parking lots, in front of stores and even on the streets and ask the generous public if they would like to voluntarily make a donation.  The Sudbury Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 527 has been involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada since 1972, and to date have raised $471,071.74! This year, with the help of local resident Kathy, Sudbury PFFA raised $34,120.20!

Kathy’s family is affected by neuromuscular disorders so she is very passionate about the great work Fire Fighters do for those affected.  She saves her money so she can visit their annual Fill the Boot and give a generous donation.  As a way to thank her, the Fire Fighters from Local 527 invited Kathy to spend an afternoon with them in their main station in late November.

IMG_2322Kathy says, “From the extensive tour of the station, to the company of such thoughtful individuals who give so freely to a cause they believe in, to the honour of breaking bread with such special people, to my privileged ride on the most mammoth piece of equipment, I’ve ever ridden in, to the totally unexpected gift of the magnificent flowers and the very touching greeting card– my word, how special you all made this woman feel yesterday!

I was particularly delighted to see that one of the pictures captured precisely the little girl thrill I felt to find myself on the hook and ladder!

My home wafts with the delightful smell of those glorious flowers and when I close my eyes, I smile and remember all those handsome faces with whom I shared time on November 28th.

Scott, please ensure that your colleagues in SPFFA Local 527 know that they qualify as heroes because they care so deeply about the community they serve. It was a pleasure to meet so many of the Fire Fighters who help Fill the Boot.  I trust that I communicated my deep gratitude to all present for their commitment to finding a cure to those neuromuscular disorders, including the variety that affects my family. Hopefully, the members now have a personal ‘face’ to attach to their efforts!

We have a target to beat next September… I’ve already begun saving!”

IMG_2316Scott Roper, the Muscular Dystrophy Canada Chairperson for Sudbury PFFA responded to Kathy by saying, “­­­­­­ You are most welcome and it was nice to have finally met you.  Thursday was just a small token to what you have given back to this community over the last few years and for that, we are thankful for it.  I was saying to my wife the other night, seeing you on Thursday and watching how happy you were, makes my decision 15 years ago to become a Fire Fighter, worth every penny and heartache to achieve my goal.  Helping out in the community is the most beneficial part of our job and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Thanks again and look forward to seeing you next year, at the Fill the Boot.  Maybe you could collect some money with us for a few minutes.”

Thank you to Kathy and the Fire Fighters from Sudbury PFFA Local 527 for sharing your amazing experience with us! We are grateful for your generosity and to the people of Sudbury who donated to the Fill the Boot campaign.


A Family Connection

md2[1]La version française suit.

For one Muscular Dystrophy Canada family, the connection to the organization goes back almost 60 years. Ken Killen was a career Fire Fighter with the Kingston Fire Department, and began volunteering with the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada in the late 1950s, a connection that carries on today through his daughter Debra Chiabai, and grandchildren Alex and Kate.

“My father was a career Fire Fighter in Kingston. He often had part time jobs in his off hours (bus driver, photographer, taxi driver) since in the early years it was not a particularly well paid job. Even though he was very busy with his full and part time work, he always made time to volunteer. The Fire Fighter charity of choice, then as now, was the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada,” remembers Debra. “I know he had a leadership role which I think would now be called Fire Fighter Advisor, but I’m not sure if that was just for his department or if it was more regional. He was responsible for a number of years for running the Kingston Telethon Centre and he also made frequent trips to the televised location in Watertown, New York to speak on behalf of Fire Fighters, co-host and to receive and deliver cheques. He would also take co-lead/coordinate the local canister drive and other events like McHappy Day. He also dressed up as a clown for fundraising events and to participate in the annual Kingston Santa Claus parade.”

md1[1]Debra would help out her dad with his volunteering duties when she could, “I loved to count the change from canisters. The mountain of change on the dining room table always looked huge and it was fun to see it slowly turn into rolls of coins. I became a really proficient roller of coins.”

“I also remember helping out with collecting coins at McHappy Day. I was quite young but I remember being struck by how drawn he was, in particular, to interacting with the children with muscular dystrophy. He was a natural both in knowing best how to help them while also giving them respect and a sense of dignity. I also remember answering the phones at the telethon at quite a young age and being very proud that MY Dad was on TV or running operations at the telethon centre.”

Her close interaction volunteering with her dad left a big impression, “I don’t really remember him specifically teaching me about muscular dystrophy or the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada, but I gained a lot of impressions and attitudes about volunteering, and respect for people with disabilities through watching him interact with both people with disabilities and his peers. I was always aware of his leadership role and his mentoring of younger firefighters to get them involved in the cause. He also was never afraid to ask people for donations or services to help the cause.”

.facebook_291828501Debra took what she learned from her father with her through her life, volunteering at Telethons, and getting involved with other charities and mentoring programs when she moved away from Kingston. When Debra and her husband Lawrence welcomed twins Alex and Kate in 2000, she did not know that the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada was going to once again play a role in their life.

In 2003, Debra’s son Alex was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Within two months of the diagnosis, Debra began volunteering with the Ottawa Chapter. “After Alex was diagnosed I knew two things: I needed information and I needed to do something to help the cause. Partially it was a way to network and get information, but I also knew I needed to get involved in finding a cure and in helping others.  It had to mean more than just what was happening to our family.”

As she became more involved in the Chapter, Debra realized that there were leadership opportunities within the organization. “I was very interested in the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee so I started there, and then I was approached to be Ontario Chapter Advisor, and then National Chapter Advisor. I am not sure I would have put myself forward to be nominated to the Board because I did not feel particularly qualified, but now that I am on the Board I really enjoy being involved in the process of ensuring we do the best job everyday of delivering on our mission and vision. I also feel privileged to work with my fellow board members – a group of amazing and dedicated people.”

As the National Chapter Advisor, Debra chairs the Chapter Advisory Committee and reports back to the Board. She is also a member of the Executive Committee, representing volunteers and chapters, and a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee. “In all these roles, I attend meetings and conferences and provide support to volunteers and support the success of the organization in any way possible. I also attend international and national conferences as a volunteer representative of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. In the past two years I have been involved in meetings with the advocacy activities and conferences with the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, a national meeting for paediatric endocrinology, a national meeting for neuromuscular researchers, and the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy annual conference.”

What does Alex think of the family’s long-standing relationship with Muscular Dystrophy Canada?

IMG1830“I think Alex finds it comforting that it has been a part of our family for a very long time. My father died when Alex was a year old which was 1 ½ years before Alex was diagnosed. I often say that if my father was still alive he would be one of Alex’s champions and an avid volunteer for MDC. I think Alex finds comfort in knowing he has the organization behind him and supporting him. As a younger child he was eager to participate in awareness and media events. Now that he is older, he is a bit shyer about appearing publically.”

“Alex’s twin sister Kate has become a great fundraiser and volunteer for MDC because of her brother. She heads up our family and friends team each year for the Walk for Muscular Dystrophy and proudly displays our top team plaque on the wall of her room. She loves to volunteer and really sees what a difference it can make in the lives of those with neuromuscular disorders. I think she also likes volunteering like Grandpa did.”


Une tradition familiale

md2[1]Pour une famille de Dystrophie musculaire Canada, le lien avec l’organisation remonte à près de 60 ans. Ken Killen, un pompier du Service d’incendie de Kingston, a commencé à être bénévole pour l’Association canadienne de la dystrophie musculaire vers la fin des années 1950, une tradition que perpétue encore aujourd’hui sa fille, Debra Chiabai, et ses petits-enfants, Alex et Kate.

« Mon père était pompier à Kingston. Il a souvent occupé des emplois à temps partiel dans ses heures libres (chauffeur d’autobus, photographe, chauffeur de taxi). Il faut se rappeler que dans ces années-là, être pompier n’était pas particulièrement bien payé. Même si ses emplois à temps plein et à temps partiel le tenaient très occupé, il trouvait toujours le temps de faire du bénévolat. L’organisme caritatif privilégié par les pompiers, à cette époque comme aujourd’hui, était l’Association canadienne de la dystrophie musculaire, relate Debra. Je sais qu’il occupait un poste de responsabilité, ce qui équivaut aujourd’hui au rôle de représentant des pompiers, mais je ne suis pas certaine s’il était représentant de son service d’incendie ou des pompiers de sa région. Pendant plusieurs années, il a été chargé du centre d’appels de Kingston pour le Téléthon Jerry Lewis et il se rendait souvent à Watertown, New York, d’où était télévisé le téléthon, pour parler au nom des pompiers, agir comme animateur et recevoir et remettre des chèques. Il codirigeait aussi la campagne des tirelires de Kingston et d’autres activités comme le Grand McDon. Enfin, il se déguisait en clown lors d’activités-bénéfice et pour participer au défilé annuel du Père Noël de Kingston. »

md1[1]Debra aidait son père dans ses activités bénévoles chaque fois qu’elle le pouvait. « J’aimais bien compter la monnaie dans les tirelires. La montagne de monnaie sur la table de la salle à manger avait toujours l’air énorme et c’était amusant de la voir se transformer lentement en rouleaux. Je suis devenue très efficace à rouler des sous. »

« Je me rappelle aussi d’avoir aidé mon père à ramasser des dons au Grand McDon. J’étais très jeune mais je me rappelle avoir été frappée de voir sa façon d’interagir avec les gens, mais surtout avec les enfants atteints de dystrophie musculaire. Il avait vraiment un don, tant pour savoir la meilleure façon de les aider que pour leur donner du respect et un sens de la dignité. Je me rappelle aussi avoir répondu au téléphone lors du téléthon alors que j’étais encore très jeune. J’étais très fière que MON père passe à la télé et dirige les opérations au centre d’appels du téléthon. »

Être associée de près aux activités bénévoles de son père a fortement impressionné Debra : « Je ne me rappelle pas vraiment que mon père ait voulu m’enseigner quoi que ce soit sur la dystrophie musculaire ou sur l’Association canadienne de la dystrophie musculaire, mais j’ai beaucoup appris sur le bénévolat et le respect des personnes handicapées en le voyant agir, tant avec les personnes atteintes qu’avec ses collègues. J’étais toujours consciente de son rôle de leader et de mentor auprès des pompiers plus jeunes pour les inciter à s’impliquer pour la cause. Il n’avait jamais peur non plus de solliciter des dons ou des services pour aider la cause. »

Debra a conservé les leçons apprises de son père toute sa vie, devenant bénévole pour les téléthons et s’impliquant auprès d’autres organismes caritatifs et programmes de mentorat après avoir quitté Kingston. Lorsqu’en 2000, Debra et son mari, Lawrence, eurent leurs jumeaux, Alex et Kate, elle ne se doutait pas que l’Association canadienne de la dystrophie musculaire allait à nouveau jouer un rôle dans sa vie.

.facebook_291828501En 2003, Alex recevait un diagnostic de dystrophie musculaire de Duchenne. Deux mois plus tard, Debra devenait bénévole à la section locale d’Ottawa. « Après le diagnostic d’Alex, je savais deux choses : j’avais besoin d’information et j’avais besoin de faire quelque chose pour aider la cause. En partie, c’était une façon pour moi de réseauter et d’avoir de l’information, mais je savais aussi que j’avais besoin de m’impliquer dans la lutte aux maladies neuromusculaires et d’aider d’autres personnes. Il fallait que ce qui arrivait à ma famille ait un sens plus large. »

À mesure qu’elle s’impliquait davantage dans les activités de la section locale, Debra réalisait qu’il y avait au sein de l’organisme de nombreuses fonctions de responsabilité pour des bénévoles. « J’étais très intéressée par le Comité consultatif scientifique et médical, alors c’est là que j’ai commencé. Et puis on m’a demandé de devenir représentante des sections locales de l’Ontario, puis représentante nationale. Je ne suis pas certaine que j’aurais moi-même osé proposer ma candidature au conseil, parce que je ne me sentais pas particulièrement qualifiée, mais à présent que je siège au conseil, j’aime beaucoup contribuer à réaliser chaque jour notre mission et notre vision. Je me considère aussi privilégiée de travailler avec mes collègues du conseil d’administration, un groupe de personnes extraordinairement engagées. »

À titre de représentante nationale des sections locales, Debra préside le Comité consultatif des relations avec les sections locales et fait rapport des activités de celui-ci au conseil. Elle fait aussi partie du comité exécutif où elle représente les bénévoles et les sections locales et est membre du Comité consultatif scientifique et médical. « Dans tous ces rôles, je participe à des rencontres et des conférences et soutient les bénévoles et le succès de l’organisation de toutes les façons possibles. Je participe aussi aux conférences internationales et nationales à titre de représentante bénévole de Dystrophie musculaire Canada. Au cours des deux dernières années, j’ai participé aux réunions et conférences sur la défense des droits et l’action sociale d’une organisation canadienne pour les maladies rares, à une rencontre nationale d’endocrinologie pédiatrique, à une rencontre de chercheurs du domaine des maladies neuromusculaires, et à la conférence annuelle du PPMD (Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, États-Unis.) »

Que pense Alex de la relation de longue date de sa famille avec Dystrophie musculaire Canada?

IMG1830« Je crois qu’il est réconfortant pour Alex que cela fasse partie de notre famille depuis si longtemps. Mon père est décédé lorsqu’Alex avait un an, c’est-à-dire un an et demi avant qu’il ne reçoive son diagnostic. Je dis souvent que si mon père était encore vivant, il serait l’un des plus grands champions d’Alex et un bénévole chevronné de DMC. Je crois qu’il est aussi réconfortant pour Alex de savoir que l’organisation est derrière lui et qu’elle l’appuie. Plus jeune, il était toujours prêt à participer aux campagnes de sensibilisation et aux événements média. À présent qu’il est plus vieux, il est un peu plus gêné de se montrer en public. »

« Kate, la sœur jumelle d’Alex, est devenue une bénévole accomplie et recueille des fonds pour DMC. C’est elle qui dirige chaque année notre équipe de parents et d’amis pour la Dystromarche et c’est sur le mur de sa chambre qu’est affichée notre plaque de « Meilleure équipe ». Elle adore être bénévole et voir les changements concrets que son implication apporte à la vie des personnes qui ont une maladie neuromusculaire. Je crois qu’elle aime aussi savoir qu’elle suit dans les pas de son grand-père. »

To The Firefighters – an excerpt from the First Annual Report of The Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada, 1955

Letter to FFLa version française suit.

When the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada approached you to help in out first ‘March on Muscular Dystrophy’ we were aware of the Fire Fighters’ outstanding record in relieving human need and suffering, not only in the course of their daily work but on all other possible occasions.

We trusted implicitly that if the Fire Fighters of Canada knew of the crippling and suffering  that is endured by those who are afflicted with muscular dystrophy, particularly the misery of the small children who are the chief sufferers from this disease, they would respond wholeheartedly to the challenge offered to them.

The Fire Fighters of Canada conducted a magnificent campaign. In a house-to-house drive they collected more than $200,000 in many districts from coast to coast. This money is now being used to sponsor research work in universities across Canada.

You have rendered invaluable assistance to the battle against this disease and brought new hope into the hearts of all those who are so afflicted. Our heartfelt thanks to you all who helped to make this drive a success.

May we express the hope that we may look for your further interest and continued support of our cause.


Aux pompiers (extrait du premier rapport annuel de l’Association canadienne de la dystrophie musculaire, 1955)

Letter to FFLorsque l’Association canadienne de la dystrophie musculaire a sollicité votre aide pour sa première « Marche pour la dystrophie musculaire », nous connaissions déjà la générosité exceptionnelle des pompiers à soulager les besoins et la souffrance humaine, non seulement dans le cadre de leur travail quotidien mais en toute autre occasion possible.

Nous étions confiants que si les pompiers canadiens connaissaient les infirmités et la souffrance qui sont le lot des personnes atteintes de dystrophie musculaire, particulièrement la misère des petits enfants qui en sont les principales victimes, ils répondraient de tout cœur à ce défi.

Les pompiers canadiens ont mené une magnifique campagne. Dans une sollicitation porte-à-porte, ils ont recueilli plus de 200 000 $ dans de nombreux districts d’un océan à l’autre. Cet argent est maintenant utilisé pour parrainer des travaux de recherche dans des universités partout au Canada.

Votre aide à la lutte contre cette maladie a été des plus précieuses et vous avez fait naître un nouvel espoir dans tous les cœurs de ceux qui en sont atteints. Nos remerciements les plus sincères à vous tous qui avez contribué au succès de cette campagne.

Permettez-nous d’exprimer l’espoir de pouvoir continuer à compter sur votre intérêt pour notre cause et sur votre appui.


From the Very Start: Helmer Reddick, Fire Fighters and Muscular Dystrophy Canada

La version française suit.

Helmer ReddickThe Edwardsburgh/Cardinal Fire Department Station #1, in the Leeds and Grenville county of south-eastern Ontario,  was formed in October of 1951. About 25 of the township’s 400 residents joined up to be Fire Fighters, Helmer Reddick was one of those 25. Helmer recalls some of his first colleagues’ day jobs:  an Ottawa Roughrider, electrician, plumber and a politician. Now retired, and 90 years-old, Helmer still gives his time to help with administrative duties and to organize the Department’s Fill the Boot campaigns for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

The Edwardsburgh/Cardinal Fire Department Station #1 has been fundraising for Muscular Dystrophy Canada since our first year in 1954-1955 to, “help out a good cause,” and, “it’s paid off with all of the progress in research.” One of the challenges Helmer found over the first few years was that people did not know where the money was going. This has changed for the better with improved communication and more awareness, especially through the Jerry Lewis Labour Day Telethon.

Though Helmer retired in 1988, he still found that he had the desire to help out around the Fire Department and with the fundraising for Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Over the years he has found some good tricks to make sure the Fill the Boot Drive goes off without a hitch – one involves getting your granddaughters to sort coins, and the other is to make sure you get the strongest Fire Fighters to hold the boots because they can get heavy:

“One time I had collected in a picnic basket. I went to lift up the basket, and the thing weighed so much that the handles broke off! I had to pick up the coins, get them sorted and rolled, and took them to the bank in a wheelbarrow,” Helmer remembers.

It takes about a week to prepare for a Fill the Boot campaign, the most prominent being during the parade at the Spencerville Fair which draws about 25,000 people now, and has been an annual event since 1855. Some of Helmer’s tactics for donations include going on air at the local radio station, show off the Fire Fighter equipment, and decorating the Department’s first fire truck for the parade. Six Fire Fighters walk on either side of the truck and gather donations. After the boots are full, the money is counted over a span of about four to five hours (with some breaks in between.) Once all the money is rolled and delivered, Helmer sets up a thank you dinner for all the Fire Fighters who volunteered – a nice BBQ feast!

Though both fire fighting and Muscular Dystrophy Canada have both changed over the past 60 years, the partnership between the organization and Canadian Fire Fighters remains strong. The Edwardsburgh/Cardinal Fire Department Station #1 has raised $91,980 to date and has worked 60 years with us to help make muscles move!

Thank you Helmer for sticking with us for 60 years!


Une collaboration de la première heure : le pompier Helmer Reddick et Dystrophie musculaire Canada

La caserne no 1 du Service d’incendie d’Edwardsburgh/Cardinal, dans le comté de LeedsHelmer Reddick et Grenville du sud-est de l’Ontario, a été formée en octobre 1951. Quelque 25 des 400 résidants de la municipalité se sont alors joints aux pompiers. Helmer Reddick était l’un de ceux là. Il se souvient du travail régulier de certains de ses premiers collègues : un joueur des Rough Riders d’Ottawa, un électricien, un plombier et un politicien. Aujourd’hui âgé de 90 ans, Helmer a pris sa retraite, mais continue de donner son temps pour aider aux tâches administratives et organiser les barrages routiers de ce service d’incendie pour Dystrophie musculaire Canada.

La caserne no 1 du Service d’incendie d’Edwardsburgh/Cardinal recueille des fonds pour Dystrophie musculaire Canada depuis la fondation de notre organisme en 1954-1955, « question d’appuyer une bonne cause et d’aider à faire avancer la recherche », de dire Helmer. L’un des problèmes qu’il rencontrait au cours des premières années, c’est que les gens ne savaient pas où allait l’argent. Depuis, cette situation a changé pour le mieux grâce à de meilleures communications et une plus grande sensibilisation, et plus particulièrement avec le Téléthon Jerry Lewis qui se tient le week-end de la fête du Travail.

Bien qu’Helmer ait pris sa retraite en 1988, il voulait encore donner un coup de main à son service d’incendie et continuer à aider à la collecte de fonds pour Dystrophie musculaire Canada. Au fil des ans, il a trouvé quelques bons trucs pour faire en sorte que les barrages routiers se déroulent sans problèmes, par exemple demander à ses petites-filles de trier la monnaie ou s’assurer de recruter les pompiers les plus forts pour tendre leurs bottes, parce qu’avec tous ces dons, celles-ci peuvent devenir très lourdes.

« Une fois, j’ai ramassé les dons dans un panier à pique-nique. Quand j’ai voulu le soulever, il était si lourd que la poignée s’est cassée! J’ai été obligé de ramasser les pièces de monnaie, de les trier, de les rouler et de les amener à la banque en brouette », se rappelle-t-il.

Il faut une semaine environ pour préparer un barrage routier. Le plus important est celui qui se tient à l’occasion du défilé dela foire de Spencerville, un événement qui a lieu chaque année depuis 1885 et qui attire aujourd’hui quelque 25 000 personnes. Helmer utilise toutes sortes de moyens pour recueillir des dons, comme passer sur les ondes de la station de radio locale, inviter le public à voir l’équipement d’incendie et décorer le premier camion d’incendie du Service pour le défilé. De chaque côté, six pompiers défilent et recueillent les dons. Une fois que leurs bottes sont pleines, il faut environ quatre à cinq heures pour compter l’argent, en prenant quand même quelques pauses. Une fois que tout l’argent est roulé et livré à la banque, Helmer convie tous les pompiers à un grand festin BBQ pour les remercier d’avoir participé au barrage routier!

Tant les pompiers que Dystrophie musculaire Canada ont bien changé au cours des 60 dernières années. Mais le partenariat entre l’organisme et les pompiers canadiens demeure toujours aussi fort. À ce jour, la caserne no 1 du Service d’incendie d’Edwardsburgh/Cardinal a recueilli 91 980 $, une collaboration à notre action musclée qui dure depuis 60 ans!

Merci Helmer d’être resté à nos côtés pendant toutes ces années!

BC Fire Fighters in full gear to raise awareness

fire fighter finishThe Nanaimo Safeway Walk for Muscular Dystrophy started out simple. Dwain King, my co-chair from the Central Island region of the BC/Yukon Fire Fighters Advisors group decided that since Victoria was the only current Walk for Muscular Dsytrophy event on Vancouver Island he would organize one a little farther north. We immediately jumped on board to support Dwain. I somewhat mistakenly sent out an email to my entire address book (over 500 recipients) and was overwhelmed with the immediate support I received in the form of donations to complete the 5 KM walk.

3 km FFI figured I had better raise the bar since I was nearing $1,000, so I announced if I fundraised $1,000 I would complete the Walk for Muscular Dsytrophy in full turn out gear, which is Fire Fighters protective clothing consisting of coat, pants, boots and helmet, adding a weight of approx. 25 pounds.

Well I surpassed the $1,000 mark so figured I had better step it up a notch! If I could reach $1,500 I offered to wear the SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) on my back, which accounts for an additional 32 pounds. Walk coordinator Dwain King from Ladysmith Fire Rescue took it one step further saying that if he raised $2,000 he would complete the Walk “on air”, which means he would walk the entire 5KM wearing the Fire Fighter mask and breathing only the air from his self contained breathing apparatus carried on his back.

Fire fighters 3KMMy sister, Cathy Ferguson King (no relation to Dwain) who is a true competitor and a true advocate for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, stepped in and said if she raised more than Dwain and I, she would ALSO complete the Walk in full turn out gear with an SCBA and ON AIR! The difference being Cathy is NOT a Fire Fighter! She does not normally wear this gear and has never used a self contained breathing apparatus.

Well she did it!! She raised more funds than Dwain and I, and the end result is that all three of us completed the entire 5KM Walk in full gear and on air.

The on air portion of the challenge was to set a level of difficulty that isn’t done by the average person and to say that we were willing to push ourselves to new limits in order to raise awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy Canada!

P1040666Point being the ever increasing dependency on respiratory assistance for those affected by neuromuscular disorders. We challenged ourselves to complete a physically demanding event while relying on only supplied air; however those with repiratory challenges rely on such systems on a regular basis. It is an opportunity for us, and others, to realize what they  go through on a day to day basis and realize that we take for granted the simple things in life. We challenged ourselves for two hours; our friends affected by muscular dystrophy do this daily!

The Nanaimo Safeway Walk for Muscular Dystrophy was not only a success in fundraising, but a success in awareness and self reflection. I had no right to say this was going to be difficult or too much of a challenge to complete because we were fortunate enough to be able to walk and breathe for those who can’t on their own.

Team Party Hardy total raised – $8,500!

Cam Ferguson  is the Deputy Fire Chief, Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue; Chair – BC/Yukon Firefighter Advisory Committee; and Firefighter Co-Advisor, Central Vancouver Island.  

PEI Fire Fighter volunteers to help others – as a Fire Fighter and Muscular Dystrophy Canada Supporter

Rod MacDonald

Rod MacDonald

Rod MacDonald is the chief of the East River Volunteer Fire Fighters from Prince Edward Island.  He has a full time job with Atlantic Enterprise Limited as a lines men and operator.  But that’s not all! Rod is also the liaison to Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) responsible for organizing all the fundraising and awareness activities the department holds.  Rod has been fundraising with MDC for about 12 years, and  got involved in the leadership role in 2007.  He really enjoys being in this leadership position because, as he says it’s fun!  It’s become an adrenaline rush for him to challenge himself and the department to see how much money can be raised.  As well, it can be a fun team building exercise for the members to get together outside of fire fighter duties.

???????????????????????????????Muscular Dystrophy Canada is close to Rod’s heart due to his continuing support of the cause, and the friends he has  met along the way. Rod has a friend who has a neuromuscular disorder whom he and fellow department members have known for over 20 years . Rod says, “To see this person at 20 walking, and now confined to a wheelchair sometimes is hard to take. This is where I get my motivation to push harder and to get other departments on the island to fundraise.”

???????????????????????????????Rod cites the best thing that’s happened to him through his MDC work was receiving a heartfelt thank you from a father from Los Angeles, California whose  three year old son has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) during our Rooftop Campout. He explains, “ It just puts a lump in your throat. It is just amazing on how good news travels.”

Rod’s favourite event has become ??????????????????????????????? the Rooftop Campout.  East River’s first annual Rooftop Campout just happened on July 25 to 27th. Fighters braved the wind, rain and heat for 3 days camping out on the roof of the gas bar at the Ultramar and Robin Donuts at the Scotchfort Reserve on St. Peters Highway.  Rod spent both nights in the elements, and fellow Fire Fighters rotated through the other nights.  There were 14 men and women from the department assisting with the event by collecting donations, sleeping over and stopping by in the middle of the night to drop donations in the boot.  Several news outlets covered the event including CBC and The Guardian, the local newspaper.

???????????????????????????????The Rooftop Campout exceeded Rod’s expectations and he couldn’t believe the number of people who stopped by to thank the fire fighters for their efforts.  In 48 hours, the Fire Fighters raised $5,800 from the campout – what makes this even more remarkable is that the money was raised in a community of approximately 200 people.

Way to go!