Firefighters help ‘fill the boot’ for MDA

On Thursday, Sept. 14, more than 800 firefighters from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 145 hit the streets with boots in hand to collect donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The fundraising campaign supports kids and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases.

For more than six decades, Local 145 has partnered with MDA for the annual Fill the Boot fundraiser, collecting donations from commuters and pedestrians. Local 145 President and Fire Captain Jesse Conner said the firefighters look forward to this event every year.

“A lot of what we do is responding to emergencies and generally the worst days of people’s lives, but this is something that’s really positive and they enjoy getting out there and supporting a wonderful cause,” said Conner during a television interview prior to the event. “We’ve done it since 1954 and we’re going to continue doing it until there’s a cure.”

MDA Executive Director Tanya Berg, Local 145 President Jesse Conner and 14-year-old Ben Lou show support for the annual Fill the Boot fundraiser.

Kids like 14-year-old Ben Lou, diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of one, are grateful for the support their families have received from MDA. Ben is in a wheelchair and has competed in mathematics competitions around the world. Spinal Muscular Atrophy is one of several different types of muscular dystrophy.

“Muscular dystrophy is a degenerative muscle disorder, it’s a progressive disease that hits children, people of any age,” said Tanya Berg, Executive Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in San Diego.

Funds raised on Thursday benefit the MDA Care Center at Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego Health, and will help send more than 60 local kids to MDA Summer Camp at no cost to their families.

In 2016, Fill the Boot raised $31,800 for MDA in the City of San Diego. Firefighters are hoping to raise even more money this year. For more information, visit