• Martin Zeilig

Boot Drive 2022

Almost $3,300 was raised at the annual early morning Firefighters Boot Drive in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada on October 12.


Photo credit: Martin Zeilig, Voxair Photojournalist

The 17 Wing Fire Hall has been involved in the charity event since the late 1990’s, noted Master Corporal Jason Loboz, the main organizer of the boot drive.


For more than 67 years, Firefighters across Canada have been enduring partners and supporters of Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) and Canadians affected by neuromuscular disorders, says the MDC website, muscle.ca. Firefighters have stood beside MDC since the beginning. They are part of the organization’s DNA.


More than 600 Fire Departments and Associations across Canada raise over $3 million annually in support of MDC. Since 1954, Firefighters have raised nearly $100 million and have made a huge difference for the entire Canadian neuromuscular community. Each year, career and volunteer Firefighters give their time and help Fill the Boot by organizing various events like boot drives, rooftop campouts, stair climbs, ladder sits, car washes, raffles, sporting events, and truck pulls!


“Firefighters have made a difference in the lives of countless Canadian families affected by neuromuscular disorders,” continues the online information. “They have helped purchase wheelchairs, hospital beds, leg braces, walkers, respirators, and other life-changing equipment. They support advocacy efforts to raise awareness and make positive policy changes, and help fund research that is helping Canadians live longer.”


Averill Stephenson, Director Community Fundraising, Western Canada, was present at the Fire Hall after the collection to help count and bundle the loonies, toonies, and other coins along with the bills of various denominations.


“Firefighters have been supporting us since the start of the organization,” Stephensen said. “The fire hall here has been supporting us for a longtime and the impact of that is incredible. We’re starting to see treatments for some neuromuscular disorders.”


She noted that the honorary ambassador for the 17 Wing Fire Hall Boot Drive, Crystal Rondeau, has been able to receive one of the treatments for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

“We’ve also been able to advocate for screening of all newborn babies,” Ms. Stephensen said. “So, all newborn babies in Manitoba and in most of Canada are screened for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which means that if they do present, they can actually be diagnosed before any symptoms show up and be treated and develop normally.” These babies, who may have passed away before their second birthday, are living and reaching milestones, she emphasized. “They’re crawling, walking and speaking,” Ms. Stephensen observed. “It’s incredible to see. We’re at an amazing point where research is beginning to show treatments for people with MD disorders.”


MCpl Loboz also expressed his thanks to all the other volunteers at the Fire Hall and from elsewhere on the Wing who helped out with the Boot Drive, including Alan Bartley, a retired City of Winnipeg Firefighter, who, as he said, “will support any event” sponsored by MDC.

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