Looking for someone who gives back with selfless dedication and values the lives of his fellow citizens more than their own?
One doesn’t have to search long to find a group of citizens who live by the code each and every day — America’s Fire and EMS workers.
And while most of us take those lifesaving services for granted until the need arises, their dedication and devotion to our safety is non-stop and unwavering.
And while some may be lucky enough to live a lifetime with no personal interaction with these dedicated servants, many more have personal stories where these individuals provided invaluable help, or made the difference between life and death.
On the most challenging nights of my life was when one of my twins decided not to allow her arrival to wait for the hospital, the first voice I heard coming down my hallway to help was a group of firemen.
It wasn’t life and death, but their presence assured a good outcome to an emergency I certainly had not anticipated.
But, something firefighters across the nation are doing this month can make the difference between life and death. Throughout the month of August, you’ll notice many of them standing outside your local mall or grocery store collecting money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the people affected by debilitating muscle disease.
It’s a campaign with humble beginnings called “Fill the Boot,” named appropriately for the method used by firefighters to hold donations.
An old boot symbolized the effort, and, over the years, has become the single most defining icon for the event.
For families like mine, the effort has provided an effort for my son and thousands of others affected with MD to establish relationships with Fire/EMS that are special and unique.
Since Jack’s diagnosis a decade ago, those workers have provided support and encouragement for a group of individuals who sometimes need an extra pat on the back or hand up.
Jack has visited a number of firehouses as an MDA ambassador, and it’s hard to describe the magic that occurs when they gather. The fire and rescue workers’ unbridled sense of caring and compassion is on clear display each and every time they host an event or take that boot out for a campaign.
These battle-tested men and women are never too busy to bend down and help a child or take a minute to let them know they are special ... and important.
They also know the only solution to this devastating problem is money and the ton of it needed to find a cure. They take time away from their families to help children they don’t know my name, but are well acquainted and joined with on a common mission.
Whether it’s helping a child attend MDA Camp at no cost to parents, or providing research for cutting-edge solutions that might lead to the final victory, this group of professionals knows no bounds regarding fundraising and the ultimate importance of those dollars.
So, next time you see a firefighter or EMS worker holding a boot, remember those kids facing an unrelenting killer and the group of heroes determined to do something about it.
Keep in mind those dollars placed in the boot represent more than currency for thousands of victims affected by MD. For children and the families who love them, each donation is a step toward a cure, a morsel of hope on a foreboding landscape.
I have a personal stake in this battle, but the efforts of these dedicated public servants provides a message of service and compassion for all. Their amazing spirit somehow makes all of us better human beings, and reminds that we are not on this earth alone.
For Jack, it has a much simpler message: You’ve got a friend.