Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Fill the Boot"-Full of a Firefigher's Act of Love and Compassion

A nice story about the upcoming MDA Labor Day Telethon I ran in July:
Recently, my stepdaughter made a post on Facebook asking about the history of  the "Fill the Boot" campaign.  I was going to answer when I shamefully had to admit I didn't know myself.

The "Fill the Boot" campaign is a fundraising strategy born out of an idea that began 51 years ago concerning a father named Charles Crowley of South Boston.  Charles had two sons both who could neither walk, attend school, nor play with the other children in the neighborhood because of a debilitating disease that came to be known as "Muscular Dystrophy" or MD.  Broke from mounting medical bills and the intense fear that his sons "would never see the age of 21", Charles Crowley went to a man he knew he could count on, an old high school buddy named George Graney.

Graney, a member of Engine Company 1 in South Boston came to Crowley's rescue by forming a fundraiser with 20 other firefighters in the Boston Commonwealth.  Going door-to-door with donation canisters, George and his crew of twenty raised $5,000.00 that 1st year.  Discovering that there were a multitude of families in the greater Boston area with the same predicament as his friend Charles, George made it his mission in life to help those whose bodies are being ravaged by this terrible plague, MD.

A member of the "International Association of Firefighters" or I.A.F.F., George came up with an idea that would ultimately make the I.A.F.F. one of the largest donors to the Jerry Lewis telethon and the MDA.  So, in 1954, before a packed convention of I.A.F.F. members in Miami, Graney made a motion before the membership to make MDA the "official charity of choice" of the International and as they say "the rest is history".  By the way, "Fill the Boot" campaign is a fundraising idea that has successfully identified MDA with firefighters from every local in the nation.

George Graney answered his last alarm on December 21, 2004 at the ripe old age of 90.  George's last shift was in 1969.  A thank you to the I.A.F.F. for such a heartwarming story and to the men and women of the fire service who follow in the footsteps of men like George everyday.

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