Firefighters fill their boots for a cause

The three-day charity campaign raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Anna Ewart

Minneapolis firefighters are trying to fill their boots with cash this week.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Minneapolis firefighters union are working on a “Fill-the-Boot” campaign to support muscular dystrophy patients and their families.

Daniel Casper, a member of the Minneapolis Fire Department’s executive board, said all of the city’s 19 fire stations will be stationed at 26 busy intersections across the city. There, they bring fire boots to cars stopped at the intersections and ask for donations.

The charity event started Wednesday and goes through Friday evening. A different shift works on-duty from 4 to 6 p.m. each day, but the firefighters are near their stations and still available to respond to calls, Casper said.

Around 100 firefighters have been out each day at the intersections, the same number of firefighters that are on-duty during any given shift. The firefighters are on-duty, but not required to attend.

Thomas Thornberg, president of the Minneapolis firefighters union and captain of the station that responds to calls in the University area, was out with other members of the station collecting donations Wednesday.

“I’m excited to be out here,” he said.

Thornberg also said the International Association of Firefighters has raised more money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association than any other organization.

The union has members in the United States and Canada. It raised $25 million for the charity last year, he said, most of which was collected during Fill-the-Boot campaigns.

This is the first time Minneapolis firefighters have conducted a Fill-the-Boot campaign of this size.

All the money raised will go to families affected by muscular dystrophy, said Lisa Piccolino, the Minneapolis district director of the association. She said this week’s goal is for the Minneapolis firefighters’ union to raise $38,000.

Although the association does a number of things to support people with muscular dystrophy, most of the money raised by Fill-the-Boot will go to sending children to Camp Courage.

Piccolino said the camp gives children with neuromuscular diseases the chance to have a traditional summer camp experience. The weeklong camp costs about $650 per child.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the International Association of Firefighters’ charity of choice. The two organizations have been partnering in Fill-the-Boot for more than 50 years, Piccolino said.

Some University students have been involved as well.

Pi Beta Phi member Rachelle Kuehne said her sorority supported and helped organize the Fill-the-Boot campaign.

Members of Pi Beta Phi have worked with the association in the past and volunteered at Camp Courage.

“The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a really good way for people to get involved in a fun and meaningful way,” Kuehne said.