Last year, the firefighters of Waxahachie Fire-Rescue were shocked when they counted the money from their annual “Fill the Boot” campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Jerry’s Kids.

The $10,600 the firefighters raised set a new record for the campaign, Waxahachie Firefighters Association president Don Alexander said.

“Last year, we did $10,600 and that was the highest we’d done,” the engineer said.

“Everybody was totally shocked.”

Prior to last year, the long-standing drive usually brought in a few hundred dollars at the most, Alexander said.

“They’ve been doing it ever since I’ve been here,” he explained, noting that “over the years, it had dropped off.

“But we had gotten out of the streets for several years, and last year was the first year to get back in the streets, and that makes a huge difference. We went from getting $300 a year to getting $10,600, and that was just the difference between being in front of a store standing and getting in the street.”

Midway through Monday morning, the firefighters thought that last year’s record haul would remain the record, as they had only counted about $9,000 in bills, with only the change left to count.

However, that change would put them over the top.

This year, over a three-day period and through the generosity of the public, the firefighters of Waxahachie Fire-Rescue raised $10,952.83 for muscular dystrophy research.

One hundred percent of the money will go to the MDA, Alexander said, explaining that WFA Local 3010 will present a check to the organization during its annual Labor Day Telethon.

Support for the program is strong through out the department, Alexander said.

“The association kind of organizes it, but all the guys - even the guys who aren’t in the association - participate,” he said. Some of the firefighters gave up time on their day off to come in and volunteer, he said, adding that “we didn’t get 100 percent participation coming in off-shift, but we had a good number.”

One of those firefighters giving extra time on Friday, the drive’s first day, was engineer Terry Kuykendall, a 23-year veteran of the fire department who theoretically retired at noon Friday.

However, noon came and went, and Kuykendall was still “toting the boot,” as Alexander put it.

“We stand out there, and it’s hot as it could be, and everybody knows it’s for a good cause,” Alexander said, adding that it “seems like everybody has enjoyed it. Now they’ll complain and moan while we’re doing it - especially when it goes to counting the money - but then we see how much we got.

“Everybody’s been really supportive,” he said.

“I really appreciate the efforts of the firefighters,” WFD Chief David Hudgins said. “The Jerry Lewis telethon is one of the highest rated in using the money, and it’s something the firefighters have supported as far back as I can remember, even when I was still in Houston.

“It certainly goes for a good cause, and I’m just proud that our firefighters care enough about those kids that they’re willing to stand out in the heat and sunburned for a good cause,” the chief said. “We really thank the community for donating that kind of money on short notice.”

E-mail Anthony at Anthony.Trojan@waxahachiedailylight.com