OCEAN CITY – Local firefighters and paramedics will hit the streets next Thursday for the annual Fill The Boot Drive, taking time from their busy schedules to reach out to the public and garner funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
Don’t be surprised to see Ocean City’s finest approaching cars and pedestrians Thursday with their boots on hand, as the fire department’s men and women will be collecting money downtown for one of their most personal causes.
Each year the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) partners with MDA in an effort to battle muscular dystrophy. Ocean City’s firefighters play their part locally, raising money along with firefighters across the nation.
Mike Maykrantz, President of the Career Firefighter Paramedics Association of Ocean City, described the annual event to the Mayor and City Council this week, noting that it is a cause that hits home with the Ocean City Fire Department.
According to Maykrantz, over $3,000 was raised during last year’s Fill The Boot campaign. Firefighters hit the streets in front of the 74th Street firehouse, approaching drivers and pedestrians for donations.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said Maykrantz, explaining that they venture into traffic during red lights, equipped with vests, and approach drivers for donations.
Maykrantz noted individuals are well out of traffic before the light turns, adding there has never been an incident locally or nationally, regarding safety with the event.
Firefighters will be carrying their boots at a different location this year, moving to the downtown sector. Maykrantz noted that, depending on the weather, they will either be situated along the Boardwalk and North Division Street, or along Baltimore Avenue.
All of the money collected goes to the MDA, where funds are used to eradicate 40 neuromuscular diseases. Funds are also used for MDA’s summer camps for children, for professional and public health education and other programs.
Since 1954, IAFF members have contributed $275 million to MDA, making the IAFF the largest national supporter.
Locally, the cause hits home for resort firefighters, with one of their own facing the disease on a daily basis.
“We feel this is really important because one of our own…his son has muscular dystrophy, and he deals with that every day,” said Maykrantz.
The council voted unanimously to approve the event for Aug. 28.