Firefighters to raise money for MDA

Firefighters to raise money for MDA

URBANA — Firefighters from Champaign, Urbana and Savoy will be looking to "fill the boot" for muscular dystrophy during the next few weeks, an effort that has raised thousands of dollars for local clinics and support services over the years.

Jon Durney, fundraising coordinator for the local branch of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, said more than 175 families in Champaign County are affected by muscular dystrophy. He said 80 cents of every dollar raised by Champaign County firefighters goes to support those local families.

Firefighters across the country raised $26 million for the MDA last year, he said. Locally, the Champaign and Urbana firefighter unions raised $10,000 each last year, and the non-union Savoy department raised about $7,000. He said all three are on pace to meet or beat their numbers from last year.

Urbana firefighters will be looking for donations Friday and Saturday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the intersection of Race Street and Florida Avenue and at the Urbana Walmart.

Champaign firefighters were out last weekend and are next scheduled to be seeking donations on Sept. 13 at the intersection of Town Center Boulevard and Neil Street and at Prospect Avenue and Devonshire Drive.

Savoy firefighters have been out almost every Saturday at Walmart, Durney said.

Muscular dystrophy is a general term for more than 40 neuromuscular diseases: Duchenne muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, among others.

Durney said the local money goes toward research projects, clinics, support groups and summer camps for children with muscular dystrophy. He said most families in Champaign County take advantage of Carle clinic services.

"The families love it because opposed to having to go 13 or 14 different doctors' offices, they get to see" doctors with a wide range of specialties in one clinic, Durney said.

Champaign firefighter Stephen McConkey is the coordinator of the fundraising effort for his department. He said the cause is important to him because his father had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"That's kind of how and why I got involved," McConkey said. "I wanted to make a difference and I've seen personally how it affected my family."

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