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‘Fill the Boot’ 3-day drive for muscular dystrophy kicks off in SCV

Posted: July 24, 2012 5:32 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2012 5:32 p.m.

A passing motorist receives a sticker after giving a donation to firefighter/paramedic Brian Ballentine of Fire Station 73 at the corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Bouquet Canyon Road during the "Fill the Boot" campain in Valencia on Tuesday.

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From Canyon Country to Diamond Bar, Malibu to the Antelope Valley, firefighters from across Los Angeles County joined together Tuesday to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Countywide, the “Fill the Boot” campaign brings in an average of $250,000 over a three-day period to help the nonprofit, according to Megan Berry, director of business development for the association.

Fill the Boot started as an effort by Boston firefighters in the 1950s to support Jerry Lewis’s muscular dystrophy telethons.

The campaign soon became a national one, and the local firefighters’ union became involved nine years ago, Berry said.

“It’s great to have compassion for a cause,” said Capt. Mark Whaling of Battalion 22 in Canyon Country. “But what’s going to beat this disease and help the children who suffer from it is money to fund research and help scientists fight it.”

The fundraising effort also brings out a healthy dose of competition among the firefighters, who vie countywide for a traveling trophy that goes to the battalion that raised the most money.

Whaling did his best to stoke the flames, so to speak, of a crosstown rivalry.

The east side of town always raises more money, Whaling said. “Canyon Country is very generous. Every year, it’s the same thing. It’s always brought up when we count the money.”

The total amount of money raised would be released Friday, Berry said. But a battalion that works the Malibu area generally carries home the county trophy.

“I think everyone who’s out here wants to support MDA because it’s such a great cause, and it helps a lot of children, too,” said firefighter John Maass. “A lot of the money goes to help run a camp for kids with the disease.”

He also took a jab at the current trophy holders, his peers in Malibu.

“Oh, I’ve been out there before. They have ringers,” he said with a laugh.

Local firefighters will be the intersections of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway and at Soledad Canyon Road and Bouquet Canyon Road from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.





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