Plano Fire-Rescue held a special press conference at Fire Station 1 on Wednesday for its annual “Fill the Boot” campaign, which starts May 11. Firefighters hope to exceed their all-time high of $74,000 that was raised last year from passing motorists.
Donations go toward the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding worldwide research for muscular diseases. MDA also supports local hospitals and provides summer camps for children living with muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases.
The kickoff was led by Capt. Scott Mallen, whose 12-year-old son, Chandler, was diagnosed in 2013 with Juvenile Dermatomyositis, or JD. The pediatric disease causes skin rash and muscle inflammation, resulting in weak muscles.
“Never in my life did I think I would be filling the boot for my own son,” said Mallen as he held back tears. “We were very fortunate to diagnose it [and] catch it very early.”
JD is generally treated with high-dose steroids and anti-inflammatory medications. If not diagnosed and treated quickly it could lead to permanent muscle damage.
Chandler is currently in remission and his prognosis is good, although he may live with occasional or chronic flare-ups, Mallen said.
“He’s doing great. His next appointment is in August and … he never quits,” said Mallen, who has been a firefighter for 24 years. “Without [MDA] we would have been lost. My son is a direct benefactor of this. Chandler’s strength, his attitude, and his resilience is amazing. But it’s not just Chandler – it’s indicative of all these children [who are affected by muscular dystrophy].”
Members of Plano Fire-Rescue will be at intersections throughout the city collecting donations May 11-16 during morning and evening rush hours. For more information, visit www.mda.org or www.plano.gov.