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Firefighters fund-raising drive for MDA struggles; COVID-19 getting much of blame

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fill the boot
Efforts to help out kids and adults suffering from debilitating muscle diseases are being hurt by COVID-19. The Fort Wayne firefighters "Fill the Boot" campaign is way down on donations for MDA, and a virtual online fund-raising drive only is getting much of the blame.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - The Fort Wayne firefighters annual "Fill the Boot" campaign appears to be another victim of the global pandemic.

It is tough sledding right now for Fort Wayne Firefighters Local 124, regarding its effort to aid the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Dating back five to ten years, city firefighters had boots in hand and roamed busy intersections across the city to collect money to help both children and adults suffering from ALS and other life-threatening diseases.

As recent as 2017, the local union raised more than $107,000 around Labor Day to pay for summer camps for kids with muscular dystrophy, for public health campaigns, and for research to try and find cures for such health threats.

Starting in 2018, city fire command decided that was a dangerous practice that had to stop, instead directing firefighters to collect money in parking lots and at places like high school football games.

Donations dropped off to $37,000 in 2018, and to $35,600 last year.

This year, with COVID-19 prompting a virtual online fund-raising drive only, at the time of this report contributions were sitting at $4,125.

"As we've kind of digressed over the years, this year taking a hit the way we have with the COVID measures being in place, it's really affecting the impact of these families receiving funds that are necessary," said Jeremy Bush, the president of the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Union.

The online campaign is being extended two to three more weeks, in hopes of generating additional donations.

The goal this year was to raise between $40,000 and $50,000.

You can go to fortwaynefirefighters.org or to the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Facebook page to make a contribution.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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