Fill the Boot is back

Members of International Association of Fire Fighters solicit donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association every year with a fundraiser called “Fill the Boot.” Above are members of Local 452 in Vancouver in 2017. [Photo by retired fire marshal John Gentry.]

They took a year off due to COVID-19, but this year from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 9 and 10—at the busy intersection of NE 78th and Highway 99 in Hazel Dell—Vancouver fire fighters will wade into stopped traffic with a pitch: Put money in the boot to help local kids diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. 

The annual event dates back to the 1950s, when a Boston fire fighter began to raise money for research and resources to help his child who’d been diagnosed with the disorder. Since then, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) chapters around the country have raised millions of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). In a typical year, IAFF Local 452’s event raises close to $40,000. 

While spouses and kids wave signs on the corners to explain what’s going on, about a dozen members walk out among idling cars wearing helmets and turnout pants and brandishing the boot, inviting motorists to put in cash or coin. A fire truck and a giant inflatable also help raise visibility.

“We try to make it a fun event,” says Kevin Lundy, who volunteers to coordinate it.

—Don McIntosh

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