We Support MDA
Since a South Boston fire fighter named George Graney convinced our union to embrace the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in 1954 as our charity of choice, the IAFF and its members have raised more than $200 million to fight more than 40 neuromuscular diseases. Throughout this great partnership, the International has spared no effort in our work to find a cure. And we will continue to work until Muscular Dystrophy is just a bad memory.
This year, the IAFF is celebrating the 50th anniversary of our partnership with MDA. Since joining forces five decades ago, we’ve made great strides in researching and treating neuromuscular diseases.
While I’m proud to have been a part of the long-standing tradition of fire fighters helping MDA, and have worked hard to make MDA an even a higher priority within our union, the real credit belongs to you — my brother and sister fire fighters. It has truly been the unstoppable and heartfelt commitment of proud IAFF members that has made the biggest difference. With all the tragedy and trauma we see every day, the positive results from engaging in something that does so much good for so many people makes me proud of this union’s members everyday.
In many ways, helping MDA is an extension of our commitment to keeping our communities safe. It’s a natural partnership for us to support one of the greatest charitable causes in the world.
Fire fighters approach fundraising for MDA with the same commitment, zeal and determination we practice on the job as the nation’s first line of defense against every conceivable emergency. Whatever the situation, fire fighters are there. No matter the obstacles we face, we get the job done.
But this longstanding commitment is not just about what we, as fire fighters, do for MDA. It’s also about what MDA does for us.
For some of us, MDA is a personal cause, as many of “Jerry Kids” are also the children of IAFF members. Others simply have found a special place in our hearts for one of these remarkable kids. These relationships between our members and those with neuromuscular disease and their families are unbreakable.
Personally, I have formed an incredibly unique bond with Mattie Stepanek, MDA National Goodwill Ambassador. In the face of tremendous obstacles, he proves to be stronger everyday than most of us will ever be. We are lucky that Mattie has agreed to serve a third term, and will continue to prove to the rest of the world that these kids deserve a place in everyone’s heart.
The spirit of MDA and kids like Mattie inspires us to give more for this cause. It mobilizes us, it bolsters morale and increases the visibility of fire fighters across the country.
As much as MDA is about “fill the boot,” summer camp and research for a cure, it is also about the tremendous benefits the MDA brings to the fire fighting community.
Every year more fire fighters join the cause and discover untapped leadership abilities within themselves. These people are our future - MDA coordinators and other IAFF members who become involved in MDA will be our next elected union officers and state presidents - just as many of our current leadership has grown up through MDA.
This is a very special year for us because it’s the “Golden Anniversary” of our partnership with MDA. And we want to make it the best year ever. We’ve already started the year-long celebration that will culminate with the Jerry Lewis Telethon on Labor Day weekend 2004.
Let’s all lead the way this year towards a cure. Together, we can make it happen.
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