The annual 'Fill the Boot' drive is going on in Wichita Falls again, and firefighters are coming off a huge success with last year's fundraiser. What started out as 'Fill the Bucket' -- in the days of bucket brigades more than 50 years ago -- is now 'Fill the Boot.' The Muscular Dystrophy Association teams up with firefighters to raise money to help those with the debilitating disease.
"It's a tradition and they've been going on for 50 years. They just love helpin' out," said local MDA executive director Daniel York.
For the last couple of years, the Fill the Boot campaign has taken on even more significance for the Wichita Falls Fire Department. Fellow firefighter Kelly Crush, a 20-year department veteran who helped collect donations himself, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy two years ago.
"That really hit home and gave us a reason - the true reason- why we're out here. We're just friends helping friends," said WFFD's Fill the Boot coordinator Corky Scarbrough.
Wichita Falls firefighters have units at a corner close to their station, and for the second year now, the firefighters are collecting off and on-duty.
"We're very thankful to the city for letting us do this on duty for MDA," Scarbrough said.
The money will help local patients with clinic visits, wheelchairs, and even MDA summer camp for kids. While firefighters collected more than $51,000 last year, this year's goal is very reachable.
"Our goal is always to beat the previous year by one dollar," York said.
"Our change last year, when we counted all of our change, that put us over the $50,000 goal, so if you think the change doesn't matter, it does," Scarbrough said.
So when you see firefighters at Kemp and Call Field or other intersections, remember - they're counting on you.
"We're not here raising money. We're collecting it from the citizens of Wichita Falls and surrounding areas. Those are the folks that make it happen. They're giving their hard-earned money. All we do is walk up and down the streets with a boot in our hands," Scarbrough said.
The fire department says on-duty firefighters will still respond to calls as normal during the drive. Firefighters will be holding the boots at various intersections in the falls during peak traffic hours Thursday evening and all day Saturday.