SSFD raises more for MDA than any other East Texas department
Donations fill firefighters’ boots to record levels
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Joyce Bateman gives a donation Thursday to Sulphur Springs Firefighter Dean Gardner for the annual Fill the Boot Drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The community donated $13,081.50 during the three-day drive, a new record for Sulphur Springs Fire Department and the most by any East Texas fire department this year.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

Sept. 6, 2005 -- Sulphur Springs continues to lead other East Texas cities in its annual Fill the Boot donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This year, Sulphur Springs firemen collected $13,081.50 in their boots during the three-day drive, a new record for Sulphur Springs Fire Department.

That’s also the most collected this year in East Texas, putting Sulphur Springs atop the Fire Fighter Honor Roll just ahead of Longview, according to Sulphur Springs Fire Capt. Charlie Vaughn who heads the local campaign.

�We asked for help. They came, and we did fill the boot,� Vaughn said proudly of the community�s donations. �A special big thanks to the community, who put the money in our boots. We definitely appreciate all of their support, help and apologize for all their [traffic] inconvenience.�

Last year, the community’s generous donations to the Fill the Boot Drive accounted for $12,805 of the $85,106.07 collected in East Texas by 30 fire departments.

In 2003, despite a slow economy, SSFD’s drive continued a record setting trend, bringing in a total of $10,631.76 collected in firefighters’ boots from passing motorists. SSFD collected $8,200 of the $35,800 raised in East Texas in 2002. In 2001, they collected $3,082. In 2000, the dedicated group sent a check for $8,500 to MDA. In 1999, SSFD raised $6,983.56.

All funds from the drive go directly to MDA to help provide patient care and research for the 450 families in the East Texas area living with neuromuscular diseases. The drive allows MDA to  provide its services at no cost to the patients.

Sulphur Springs’ donations help fund a week-long summer camp where people with muscular dystrophy ages 6-21 can experience a wide range of activities, including fishing, swimming and horseback riding. The amount donated by the community through SSFD’s donation was enough to cover the $600 per person camp fee for 21 children, with money left over for other services.

The funds also help pay for clinic visits from the initial diagnosis, for follow-up medical care, assistance in helping families purchase wheelchairs which cost upward of $2,000, genetic counseling and flu vaccinations.

Support groups for individuals and families affected by neuromuscular diseases cost $100, while research for cures to these illnesses is estimated to cost $62 a minute. One physical, occupational or respiratory therapy consultation is generally a minimum of $75, while professional fees related to trial-diagnostic workups at UT Health Center can be $200.

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