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‘Fill the Boot’ for MDA is this week

Posted: September 3, 2015 5:06 p.m.
Updated: September 4, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Gary Phillips/C-I

Lugoff Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Spitzer, Chief Dennis Ray, Camden Fire Chief John Bowers, Camden Firemen Chris Tidwell and Abram Johnson and MDA Executive Director Tara Heil met at the Camden Fire Department to launch the 2015 “Fill the Boot” campaign to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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As Kershaw County enters the annual Labor Day weekend, it’s also time for local fire departments to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Firemen in Camden and Lugoff took to the streets Thursday and are doing so again today and Saturday, holding a boot they hope to fill with donations from passing motorists.

Tuesday morning, the Camden Fire Department (CFD), Lugoff-Fire Rescue (LF-R) and MDA held a kickoff event to prepare for the weekend ahead.

“This is the most magical time of year for us … when it is boot drive season,” MDA Executive Director Tara Heil said. “The boot drive has become a Labor Day tradition for more than 60 years. MDA partnered with firefighters the first year MDA was founded.”

Heil said the Camden and Lugoff departments consistently rank among the top fundraisers in South Carolina, even though there are many larger cities and departments involved. The money goes to send MDA patients to camp and helps finance research in the search for a cure for Muscular Dystrophy.

“It is no small feat for them to be third in the state, when you think about it. It speaks so well of the Camden and Lugoff community. We are very excited and very proud of that,” Heil said.

The CFD’s Abram Johnson, who also serves as an MDA Camp counselor, said the money raised during the Labor Day drive sends kids to camp at no cost to their families. 

“2015 was my first year. I didn’t know how much that money makes a difference in those kid’s lives. At camp, we had a blast,” Johnson said. “The smiles on those kid’s faces is something you could never replace.”

Camden firemen are working at the intersection of Broad and DeKalb streets from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. In Lugoff, firemen are at U.S. 1 and Ridgeway Road near the fire station from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m..

CFD Chief John Bowers said the boot drive is a fun tradition.

“It’s good to partner up with our neighboring community, our neighboring fire department and combine our efforts and raise even more money. Last year, we raised nearly $20,000 all together,” Bowers said. “That’s significant for a small community like ours. We’re fortunate to have such a giving community.”

LF-R Chief Dennis Ray asked motorists to be mindful of the firemen as they work in the middle of a busy intersection.

“We’re going to have reflective vests on, but please look out for us. We’ll be holding up our boots. Spread the word that we’re out there and look out for us to keep our folks safe. It’s a great privilege for us to serve,” Ray said.

Camden Mayor Tony Scully made the first donation, followed closely by Camden Councilwoman Alfred Mae Drakeford.

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