Firefighters give Muscular Dystrophy the boot

Penticton firefighters will be shaking their boots for a good cause Sept. 26 and 27 at two city venues.

Daniel Cunningham

Daniel Cunningham

Penticton firefighters will be shaking their boots for a good cause Sept. 26 and 27 at two city venues.

Members of the Penticton Local (1359) of the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association are holding their annual boot drive to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Similar events are taking place in Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Salmon Arm during the weekend.

“This year marks 60 years firefighters have been partnered with Muscular Dystrophy Canada to raise money and awareness. It’s been a tradition with firefighters,” said Ryan Bazley, the union’s local spokesman. “Over time, people with neuromuscular disease, their muscles deteriorate and we want to help them lead a more comfortable life and help find a cure.

“Wheelchairs, respiratory care costs a lot of money to afford and we just want to help with that. Our main focus is to help them live a comfortable life and help find a cure.”

On Sept. 26 firefighters will be at Scotiabank South Branch 1-4 p.m. and Sept. 27 will be at Safeway 11a.m.-2 p.m.

Bazley added firefighters in Penticton are very much involved with those with MD apart from just the fundraising.

“Absolutely we have a personal connection with them,” he said. “We have about 20 people in Penticton and the surrounding area who have a neuromuscular disorder. We take them birthday cakes we partake in wheelchair soccer and they also come out and help us raise money for the cause.”

Funds raised by the Okanagan Valley firefighters are used to provide support for those living muscular dystrophy which includes over 150 types of neuromuscular disorders that are characterized by the wasting and progressive weakness of muscles.

Over time, many suffers are unable to walk, speak, or ultimately breathe.

And while there may not be a cure yet, researchers are getting closer and the quality and longevity of those suffering from the disorders have improved significantly.

“Because of our fundraising and awareness about 10 years ago the expectant age of a person with muscular dystrophy only lived to about 16 or 17 years old and now they’re living to 30 or 40 years old,” said Bazley. “That shows what we do is making a difference.”