Waxahachie Firefighters braved the heat throughout May in order to help 10 children battling muscular dystrophy make their dreams of attending summer camp come true.

To do so, three teams of firefighters collected $20,933 in donations from motorists during the annual “Fill the Boot” campaign.

“I think that the biggest thing for this is just to say thank you to the community for their support. You look at the numbers, and it (donations) has steadily increased,” Waxahachie Firefighters Association Treasurer Kevin Lindsey said. “Without the support of the fire department allowing us to do it on duty and the citizens, we could not reach that number.”

According to the MDA website, more than 580 “Fill the Boot” campaigns take place annually across the country. The donations made by the public help provide care and services, as well as support groups and medical assistance. They also help send thousands of kids to “the best week of the year” at MDA Summer Camp at no cost to the families.

In 2016 MDA awarded 70 research grants totaling about $16 million and contributed to dozens of clinical trials that are now underway.

Waxahachie Firefighter Association Vice-President Ed Konick said before this year’s campaign firefighters were able to raise $92,069 for MDA from 2011-16.

“Some people will ask, 'what is this for' when they would see the sticker. We try to explain that to them. If it is a kid giving us money we will try to explain it, too, that there are kids that are not getting around very well and with this money that you’re giving they get to go to camp. So you’re doing a good thing,” Konick said. “We try and explain that to as many people as we can, but that is a short time because we are in-between red and green lights.”

Fundraising Coordinator for MDA, Danni Frank, said sending a child to camp helps to build their courage.

“Camp gives them a lot of confidence. We see kids go the first year and are too afraid to try new things or are a still a bit reserved. We have seen so many kids come back to their second or third year of camp and they are going on the zip line or they are going horseback riding and they would not do that before,” Frank explained. “It helps them become independent. It helps them learn that they can ask for help. A lot of these kids, they don’t want to show their weakness or to show that they are different. Sometimes they need to ask for help and that is a big part of camp is teaching them to say, it is ok to ask for help when you need it, but it is ok to feel independent.”

The Mayo Clinic’s website states a muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. In muscular dystrophy, abnormal genes, such as mutations, interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle. There are many different kinds of muscular dystrophy.

“Some people who have muscular dystrophy will eventually lose the ability to walk. Some may have trouble breathing or swallowing,” the Mayo Clinic’s website states. “There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. But medications and therapy can help manage symptoms and slow the course of the disease.”

Frank added that having the support of organizations like the Waxahachie Fire Department is tremendous. The cost to send one child to camp is $2,000. This year, 100 children attended camp in June at Camp John Marc in Meridian. She hopes that next year MDA will be able to send 200 children to camp through the hard work of firefighters and generous donations from the public.

For more information about MDA go to its website at www.mda.org.