The Cape Coral Professional Firefighters Local 2424 will host a "Fill the Boot" drive starting Friday and running throughout the weekend to help raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Firefighters will collect donations from passersby at the following Cape intersections:
* Veterans Parkway and Santa Barbara Boulevard
* Cape Coral Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard
* Del Prado Boulevard and Pine Island Road
* Del Prado Boulevard and Hancock Bridge Parkway
* Del Prado Boulevard and Veterans Parkway
* Chiquita Boulevard and Cape Coral Parkway
* Diplomat Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard
* Pine Island Road and Nicholas Parkway
* Pine Island Road and Burnt Store Road
* Del Prado Boulevard and Kismet Parkway
"They'll be carrying boots, and the idea is for people to make any type of monetary donation that they're able to," Brendan Fonock, president of Local 2424, said. "This is a very giving community."
The proceeds will go to the MDA and the research of muscular dystrophy and its 40-plus muscle diseases, as well as treatment and equipment for those individuals served by the health agency.
There are an estimated 500 people served by the MDA in Southwest Florida.
The funds raised also help to send children to the MDA summer camps.
The MDA sponsors nearly 80 weeklong camp sessions annually, serving more than 3,600 children in the United States and Puerto Rico. More than 4,400 volunteers serve as camp counselors and staff.
"Until there is a cure, we're going to continue raising money for them," Fonock said.
The International Association of Fire Fighters has partnered with the MDA for nearly 60 years.
"In Cape Coral, we've been doing it for decades," he said.
During the drive, the firefighters will be on duty.
"They'll be available to respond to emergencies," Fonock said. "It doesn't affect service at all."
Local 2424 switched from using volunteers to on-duty personnel two years ago.
"We're probably one of the last fire departments in the country to do it," he said.
Prior to the switch, the Fill the Boot drives typically raised between $10,000 and $20,000.
Local 2424 collected just over $30,000 in donations last year with one drive.
This year, the group set a higher fund-raising goal of $35,000.
"We wanted to raise it up a little bit," Fonock said.
"This will certainly be the most amount of money we've raised if we reach our goal," he added.
This is also the second Fill the Boot this year. A drive in March brought in about $26,000.
In the past few years, Local 2424 has done one drive early in the year, with other fund-raisers.
"Traditionally, the Boot drives are done over Labor Day weekend, with the telethon," Fonock said. "But we tend to do them during the cooler months."
The MDA Show of Strength Telethon will air from 9-11 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
The MDA is a non-profit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases through research. It covers health care and support services, advocacy and education.
For information about Fill the Boot or the MDA, visit online: www.mda.org.