The IAFF’s iconic Fill the Boot program – part of the decades-long partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) – is a time-honored tradition in the fire service. As MDA’s single largest fundraising partner, the IAFF has raised more than $630 million to help find a cure for neuromuscular disease.
The relationship between the IAFF and MDA dates back to 1954 when delegates at the 22nd IAFF Convention in Miami, Florida, declared MDA its charity of choice.
It began in 1952 as a good deed when Boston, MA Local 718 member George Graney helped a friend – Charles J. Crowley – raise money in support of muscular dystrophy research. Crowley’s two sons both suffered from the deadly disease. The two rounded up members of Local 718 and set off for a neighborhood door-to-door canister drive, which raised $5,000. The success of that initial effort and subsequent drives prompted a Convention resolution pledging the IAFF’s support until the battle to find a cure is won.
The bond between the IAFF and MDA remains strong, and Fill the Boot has become much larger than a fundraising drive – it represents the caring relationship between fire fighters and their communities. IAFF affiliates have added other fundraising initiatives, including golf events, bowl-a-thons and softball tournaments.
“For more than 60 years, our members have been working hard for MDA, filling the boot on behalf of this great charity. They know that what they do truly makes a difference in the lives of so many. Until there is a cure, we plan to continue the partnership.”Harold A. Schaitberger, IAFF President