Cortland firefighters raise $6K for muscular dystrophy

The Cortland Fire Department presented a representative from the Muscular Dystrophy Association with a $6,328.05 donation Tuesday afternoon - the proceeds from the department’s “Fill the Boot” campaign held Saturday.

The donations are used to support an Upstate summer camp for kids with muscular dystrophy, as well as a care center at SUNY Upstate Medical University, said David Ciesielski, a development specialist with the association.

Muscular dystrophy is actually a constellation of different genetic disorders that cause muscle weakness and limited mobility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common form of muscular dystrophy -- Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy-- affects 1 in 7,250 males between the ages of five and 24 in the United States, according to the CDC. By the time the boys reach their middle teens and early twenties, 90 percent use a wheelchair, the CDC notes. Almost half of patients with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, 42 percent, die before the age of 24, according to national statistics.

The proceeds from the weekend’s campaign -- strategically coordinated to coincide with the heavy traffic jams of SUNY Cortland’s graduation weekend -- was the largest yet for the fire department, said city Firefighter Drew Hill.

“We beat it by $11,” said Hill, who currently coordinates the department’s campaign. The department has been participating for more than 10 years, since before he was hired, Hill said.

Ten off-duty city firefighters held out their boots and solicited donations from drivers between 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the corner of Tompkins and Broadway streets in the city.

Saturday’s haul brings the fire department’s total contribution to the association since it began participating in “Fill the Boot” to over $34,000.

“Fill the Boot” is a program promoted by the International Association of Fire Fighters union, the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s largest national sponsor, according to the association’s website.

Ciesielski expressed his thanks for all the generous donations Tuesday afternoon and credited Hill for his hard work.

“He does a great job,” Ciesielski said.