Merced firefighters' boots overflow with $11K raised for Muscular Dystrophy Association

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comApril 23, 2013 

The Merced Fire Department didn't just "Fill The Boot" on Tuesday -- it overflowed the boot with more than $11,000 in donations, a record for the annual fund-raiser.

The funds benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association and help send local kids to an annual camp.

More than 20 fire personnel volunteered to raise money for the association during the seven-hour event at G Street and Olive Avenue.

"We've had a great turnout from our members which helps us collect more donations," said Fire Capt. Cory Haas. "Merced has traditionally done a great job supporting Muscular Dystrophy Association."

The fund-raiser, a 59-year-tradition in cities across the country, is supported by the local firefighters union.

Chad Englert, union president and Fire Department engineer, said the event would not be possible without the public's support.

"We want to thank the community for donating. They're the ones that make it possible," he said. "We're just out here facilitating."

Englert's daughter, 4-year-old Amanda, was a big helper during Tuesday's fund-raiser. "I want to help Dada," she said.

As cars passed by on G Street, firefighter Jeff Trost, who helped organize the event, took the time to spread the word about the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

He caught the attention of Merced resident Jerry Schlintz, 60, who stopped to make a donation.

"My wife has ALS -- or Lou Gehrig's disease -- and the Muscular Dystrophy Association helped us pay for her wheelchair repair," he said.

The cost to repair it was about $900, and the association paid more than half the bill.

Most of the firefighters said this year's fund-raiser brought the most support they've seen -- with more cars stopping and people donating larger amounts.

Carrie Danny, executive director with the Muscular Dystrophy Association Central California, said the money will support local families by assisting with medical treatment and sending kids to camp.

"To me, it's hope. It means we can keep helping people," Danny said. "We are just incredibly excited. I just have to thank the firefighters. Merced firefighters are just an incredible, giving group."

Last year, the "Fill The Boot" fund-raiser pulled in $8,000, Danny said; they shattered this year's goal of $9,000.

"It was an increase of $3,000 from last year and we beat our goal," Danny said. "Thank you to the community of Merced for being so generous."

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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