Firefighters work to Fill the Boot

Loudon firefighter Tim Barringer accepts money from a driver passing through downtown Loudon.

Loudon Fire Department collected money Saturday for the fight against muscular dystrophy.

About 15 firefighters camped at the intersection of Mulberry and Grove streets for the Fill the Boot fundraising campaign.

“What we do as far as this campaign, we used to do fire boots and we switched to buckets,” Mark Harvey, Loudon fire battalion chief, said. “We’re at the intersection here, and most people know when they see us on Labor Day weekend and we give them a sticker, this is what we’re doing. Some people do approach us but a lot of them drive by and they’ll just give us money.”

LFD’s involvement dates back decades.

“The Muscular Dystrophy Association, there’s a long history with the fire service being involved with MDA, dates back many years ago, probably close to 100 years ago, so it’s just kind of natural to partner with them,” Mike Brubaker, Loudon fire chief, said. “We started probably over 25 years ago working with MDA. We do an annual roadblock here in downtown Loudon every year the Saturday before Labor Day. The community is always very giving.

“Muscular dystrophy is kind of near and dear to our hearts as well because we had a young man in our community, Blake Goins, who had muscular dystrophy, and so we actually got to see the results of the fundraising that helped him go to summer camp every year,” he added.

Goins died in April 2018.

The fundraiser typically brings in about $2,000, which Brubaker considered “pretty good” for four hours.

“We have all of our guys pretty much out here,” Brubaker said. “Our whole force is out here, our whole staff. We’re just out here having a good time with camaraderie and fellowship with each other. The community knows we’re doing it. Most of them stop by and donate to give to the cause.”

Fill the Boot has been ongoing for more than 65 years, according to MDA.

“Muscular dystrophy started, I think was a firefighter in Chicago, his child had muscular dystrophy,” Harvey said. “His fire department went door to door with a boot to collect money for his child and that’s how the Fill the Boot became active.”

More than 100,000 firefighters raised $20 million for MDA last year. Money goes to fund research for new treatments, support MDA Care Centers and send children to MDA Summer Camp.

“I firsthand have been to the camp, the summer camp that they do for the kids that have muscular dystrophy, and to see the joy and the smiles in their faces to get to interact with the other kids across the state, and to play,” Brubaker said. “Again, the things they got to do, the games, the excitement, we had fire trucks out there. For that day it was like they were everyday normal kids and that was just great to see smiles on their faces along. That made a big impact on me for sure.”

The fundraiser collected about $2,592, Brubaker said Tuesday morning.

“I believe this is one of our highest totals for a roadblock,” he said.