This Labor Day weekend, over 1,200 firefighters collected donations at busy intersections across the KC metro area for this year’s Fill the Boot Labor Day Boot Block to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
All the money raised during this year’s event will help fund patient’s needs in and around the Kansas City Metro area.
In the last 11 years, Local 42, which includes Belton, Claycomo, Excelsior Springs, Grandview, Kearney, Liberty, North Kansas City, Riverside, and Kansas City, Missouri Fire Departments, have collected over $1 million for the MDA.
The MDA supports patients that have any of the over 40 forms of muscular dystrophy, offering Care Centers where patients are able to visit multiple doctors in one place.
“Our patients might need to see a neurologist, a physical therapist, and a respiratory therapist because the disease can affect multiple parts of the body,” said Tara Vandermillion, MDA development coordinator. “Instead of patients having to make appointments with five different doctors, they can come to one place where they can see all these doctors for one copay.”
She said the MDA also offers a loan closet where patients can loan equipment for as long as they need them. This comes in handy when the family’s insurance has not kicked in yet or they are unable to afford various types of equipment.
“We have equipment like motorized wheelchairs, shower chairs, or CPAP machines,” said Vandermillion. “Sometimes when a patient is newly diagnosed, their insurance won’t kick in for a while. If we have that piece of equipment in stock, we will loan it to our patients free of charge for as long as they need it. If they need it for a month or a year until their insurance kicks in or until they can afford it on their own, we will loan anything out of our loan closet to our patients.”
The MDA also hosts a summer camp for kids with neuromuscular disease. The state-of-the-art campsite at the Lake of the Ozarks offers a variety of handicap-accessible activities and programs such as arts and crafts, sports, horseback riding, swimming, boating, fishing, ziplining, carnivals, archery, and much more.
“We pay 100 percent for each child to spend one week at the camp,” said Vandermillion. “They can do anything a fully-functioning child is able to do at a summer camp. Because it’s for kids with similar diseases, they don’t feel like they stick out and they can be themselves.”
She said that while the MDA is able to provide so much for patients in the Kansas City area, they can always do more, but need the help of the community to do so.
“I think everyone has been in a position at one point or another when someone was sick, maybe your medication was expensive and maybe you couldn’t afford something you needed,” she said. “I can’t imagine as a parent, having a child and you can’t afford their motorized wheelchair or you can’t afford something that they need to be able to live life everyday.”
Without this annual event from one of MDA’s biggest supporters, Vandermillion said they would not be able to reach the level of service they have.
“Without Kansas City raising $1 million in the last eleven years, we would not be able to do what we do without Local 42,” she said.
For more information, visit www.mda.org.