AUSTIN (KXAN) - Thursday morning firefighters stood outside fire stations across Austin to kick off the annual Fill the Boot drive, where 44 different stations are collecting money for the Austin Muscular Dystrophy Association.
In 2012 they raised $85,000, and they hope to raise $90,000 this year. Still, Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr said she wants the department to try to go above that and raise $100,000.
"It's so honorable and so humbling to know that, that's how people think of us and put their trust in us and know that when they give us something that we'll be good stewards of that money and make sure it goes to local MDA efforts," said Kerr.
All the money raised during Fill the Boot supports programs around the Austin area, such as the MDA clinics at Dell Children's Medical Center and St. David's Round Rock Medical Center. It also helps families who can't afford equipment, such as wheel chairs, to get a loan.
The fundraiser also helps kids with muscle diseases go to a week-long summer camp.
It's a camp helpful for people like Mario Andrade and his 9-year-old son, who has a form of muscular dystrophy. He has trouble physically keeping up with other kids in class and doing something as simple as holding a pencil.
Andrade said the summer camp opened his eyes and helped him meet other kids just like his son.
"Knowing that there's a larger group of children out there that are going through the same struggles as him really helps him gain that confidence," said Andrade. "In some cases, he would think that he was all alone. And to know that he's not, and to know that there's a big group and people willing to support him is wonderful."
For the past 59 years, International Association of Fire Fighters members have partnered with the MDA in the search for a cure for muscle diseases.
"We have a grandson that had Duchene muscular dystrophy, Justin. And he is 15 years old, and he is now in a wheelchair. And he slowly keeps losing his muscle," said Lois Johnson, who volunteers for MDA with her husband Lester. "The help of the firefighters to raise money with Fill the Boot, it's hard to put it in words what it means to us. That's just an outstanding group of people."
Fill the Boot ends Sunday.
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