Alice firefighters are getting ready to hit the streets for the Fill-the-Boot campaign beginning on Thursday. Pictured (l-r) are Lt. Pat Canales, Orlando Canales, Capt. Ricardo Gonzalez and Robby Rosales. OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

Fire fighters once again raise money to help 'Jerry's Kids'

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Some of Alice's bravest will be in full swing once again collecting coins and bills during their Fill-the-Boot campaign to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association beginning Thursday through Saturday.

"It's not only the firefighters, it's also family and friends that show up," said Pat Canales, coordinator for the past six years.

This year about 20 Local 4102 Firefighters Association members and firefighters with the Alice Fire Department will take turns collecting change and bills at the corner of Texas Boulevard and Main Street during the three-day, 18-hour Fill-the-Boot drive that raised more than $10,000 last year.

"Our goal is to reach $12,000," said. "Last year was the highest that we collected in the history of the firefighters. It was a record breaking year."

Also soliciting for donations will be the firefighters' mascot "Sparky," the dalmatian dog, Canales said. The group will be at all four corners of the intersection from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

For more than 50 years, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Muscular Dystrophy Association have joined forces.

The local members have supported the cause for the last seven years to fund MDA summer camps for children and hosted Lock-ups. Last year, local fire fighters raised $10,198.51.

The money collected from motorists dropping donations into fire fighter boots during the street side campaign will help support local MDA services and research programs into 43 genetic diseases. The local chapter helps more than 800 client families with equipment such as wheelchairs and braces and assists with health care, all free to the client. Across the nation, Fill-the-Boot campaigns have raised more than $240 million for MDA's fight against the diseases since 1954.

The campaign works with clients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrigh's disease, myasthenia gravis, spinal muscular atrophies, Friedreich's ataxia and other neuromuscular diseases.

"All the money is going to find a cure for all of these diseases," Canales said.