Missouri Governor Mike Parson has officially proclaimed August as Fill the Boot Month to mark the 65th anniversary of the firefighters extraordinary efforts on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Nearly $600 million has been collected since 1954 when the program began with one Boston Firefighter.

Rolla Local 3987 Fighters will be participating in the 65th annual Fill the Boot benefitting the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They are one of 63 departments in the Ozarks that is collecting.  

“Fill the Boot is off to great start. Several departments didn’t wait until Labor Day weekend to collect, and the response so far has been encouraging,” Executive Director of MDA, Jerry Bear, says. “Rolla has a long history of supporting MDA. In 2018 Rolla had a record year collecting $5,018.”

Firefighters are watching their extraordinary determination and hard work usher in a new era of progress in research and treatments. Seven new drugs have been approved since 2015, Bear says. “The treatment Spinraza has been used in Spinal Muscular Atrophy to allow a new born baby with a life expectancy of one year to ‘dance with the doctor’ at age three and her parents saving money for college,” Bear says. He adds, there are many other stories to be written about gene therapy in the future. MDA plans to release 45 more new drugs and treatments in the next three years.

Each Fill the Boot is unique to the community. They will be held at Battlefield Mall, Bass Pro Shop, Tanger Outlet Mall in Branson, Walmarts, four-way stops, and intersections. Silver Dollar City invites Southern Stone County to collect at Echo Hollow Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the Southern Gospel Festival Labor Day weekend. Other locations include football games, county fairs, and major events in their community. 

“The Firefighters have a special dedication to MDA. They work so hard. The departments vary from all-volunteer to all-professional and a mix of both. The smaller departments also have great success, thanks to a generous public,”  Bear says.

Funds raised through the Fill the Boot will also support MDA Care Centers located at Mercy Hospital in Springfield. Kids between six-17 years old with muscular dystrophy attend a weeklong, barrier-free MDA Summer Camp at Camp Wonderland.  Over one million people in the United States are affected by the 43-neuromuscular disease covered by MDA.  That includes ALS. MDA has invested $325 million dollars in research and services since 1954.

Silver Dollar City will be honoring the firefighters Labor Day. Silver Dollar City will be hosting an Ice Cream Social for all participating departments. Firefighters will gather at Echo Hollow to appear on KOLR10-TV to announce their totals. Fill the Boot has easily recognizable posters and banners and everyone donating will receive a sticker to put on the dashboard of their car.