CHICAGO - Chicago firefighters are once again taking to the streets, boots in hand, to raise money for kids with neuromuscular disease.
The "Fill the Boot" campaign launched at Engine 42 on Wednesday. It’s the 67th year of the event and they’re hoping it’s a big one to make up for last year when many fundraisers were canceled, money was tight and giving was way down.
"In a typical year nationwide, firefighters would raise $20-25 million for the MDA," said Kelsey Tomko. "Last year nationwide, we raised $2 million."
Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt and members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Kicked off the event with a news conference calling on people to give what they can.
Firefighters will be out on the streets all over Chicago on Wednesday at intersections carrying their boots asking for donations.
The campaign raises money to fund care centers and support groups for the many children with muscular dystrophy and adults with muscular dystrophy and ALS.
Unlike previous years, no MDA families took part in the launch this year because of safety concerns.
"Anyone who has muscular dystrophy is at a higher risk if they were to contract COVID-19 for some very serious complications so we thought we would not have them here this year," said Tomko.
The Chicago Fire Department has raised more than $1.7 million for the MDA over the last 16 years.
"If you can afford a couple bucks we’d appreciate it. It really goes to a great cause and stays local. If you can’t, just beep and say hello, say thanks for what those firefighters are doing out there on a daily basis," said Jim Tracy of the Chicago Firefighter’s Union Local 2.
"After a year off due to the pandemic, we’re looking forward to another successful Fill the Boot season with the Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2," said Tomko.
"Funds raised through 2021 Chicago Fill the Boot drives help the MDA save lives and lift those up in need, by providing the MDA with vital resources and support, including state-of-the-art support groups and Care Centers, including the MDA Care Center at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, Rush University Medical Center and UIC Hospital in Chicago," she said.
Chicago Firefighters Union Local will be collecting donations from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.