Up by the bootstraps

As Minot firefighters stand and wait in traffic at two of the city’s 52 signaled intersections, Minot and area residents are contributing to a cause that gives hope to families and children afflicted with muscular dystrophy worldwide.

The annual “Fill the Boot” fundraising campaign began Tuesday in Minot and will continue through Thursday.

People wishing to donate can find Minot firefighters at the intersection of 20th Avenue Southwest and 16th Street Southwest, and at the intersection of Third Street Southeast and East Burdick, right outside the Ward County Courthouse.

Muscular dystrophy, a hereditary disease that leads to the weakening and wasting away of musculature in the body, has no cure, but for 59 years the Muscular Dystrophy Association has partnered with fire departments across the United States and Canada to collect the loose change in cars and the pants pockets of drivers and passengers at busy intersections.

“Firefighters started this fill-the-boot tradition back in 1954 when a firefighter group had a member of their team whose family had a neuro-muscular disease,” said Sue Wiger, an executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association who oversees North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota. “They tried it, it was so successful. It just started growing and firefighters everywhere started taking up the cause.”

Firefighters will be working the intersections with tall fire-boots ready to be filled with money.

Last year Minot firefighters raised $38,907, which was a record for the local. That money went to sending 48 children to summer camp this year. It helped fund the MDA research project, worldwide research, for 525 minutes, and it also paid for 1,296 flu shots.

Nationwide, firefighters took in $25.2 million with the program in 2012. This year the association and the firefighters are setting a goal of $42,000 in Minot.

“On behalf of the mayor and the city council I want to make the first contribution to fill the boot, and I wish you the best,” said Jim Hatlelid, a member of the Minot City Council, as he dropped some cash into the outstretched boot.