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Muscular Dystrophy Association and International Association of Fire Fighters Celebrate 65 Years of Fill the Boot Partnership

Virginia Fire Fighters Take Annual Fundraiser on the Road with March for MDA March 24

CHICAGO, March 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- For 65 years, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) have helped raise critical funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) – one dollar at a time in members' boots – to transform the lives of kids and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related neuromuscular diseases.

This March, two Virginia fire fighters – Fire Medic, Joe Jarman and Lt. Travis Saunders, with the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Department and Local #2801 are taking Fill the Boot on the road for the March for MDA, as they hike 130 miles to raise awareness of the partnership to save lives, as well as promote newborn screening for neuromuscular conditions.

The March for MDA continues the honored IAFF tradition of Fill the Boot, after more than 65 years of providing constant ambition and loyalty to help give MDA families the strength to live longer and grow stronger.

IAFF and MDA are also collaborating on a campaign to encourage states to expand newborn screening programs by adding tests for specific neuromuscular disorders so that all newborns with these conditions can have the best possible chance at receiving the care and support services they need as early as possible.

"With MDA, the IAFF's support is not going to come to an end until the need for MDA doesn't exist," said Harold A. Schaitberger, IAFF General President. "The marriage between the devotion of fire fighters with the cause of MDA has emerged as one of the strongest examples of selflessness in the history of charity, and we remain committed to elevating this tradition to even higher levels in our 65th Anniversary year of partnership."

Joe and Travis will kick off the March for MDA on March 24 in Virginia Beach, VA and will culminate on March 29 in Richmond, Virginia, where they are inviting individuals impacted by neuromuscular disease, as well as other IAFF fire fighters from across the state, to join them in their final MDA mile.

"IAFF members display an unwavering support for MDA year after year, raising critical funds and awareness to help our families get the strength and resources they need," said MDA CEO and President, Lynn O'Connor Vos.  "We are so thankful to all of the fire fighters who participate in Fill the Boot, especially Joe and Travis for their passion and commitment to go above and beyond to support the MDA community."

Funds raised through 2019 Fill the Boot events will help MDA give strength to those in need through vital resources to drive innovations in science and care for the neuromuscular community. Contributions have helped fund MDA's groundbreaking research and life-enhancing programs such as state-of-the-art support groups and a network of over 150 MDA Care Centers at top medical institutions across the country.

The partnership between the IAFF and MDA began in 1954 when the organization committed by proclamation to support MDA until cures are found, and the IAFF's unwavering commitment to MDA has remained strong to this day. As MDA's largest national partner, it has raised more than $650 million for MDA to date. Today the IAFF/MDA partnership is finding new ways to save lives by working to expand newborn screening in the U.S. for babies born with neuromuscular conditions, such as Pompe disease and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), so that they can be immediately eligible for lifesaving and life changing therapies.

Follow Joe and Travis' March here with live feeds beginning March 24 on Facebook and Twitter. Photos will be shared on Instagram.

About the IAFF

The International Association of Fire Fighters represents more than 315,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation's population. More than 3,400 affiliates and their members protect communities in every state in the United States and in Canada.

About MDA

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is committed to transforming the lives of people affected by muscular dystrophy, ALS and related neuromuscular diseases. We do this through innovations in science and innovations in care. As the largest source of funding for neuromuscular disease research outside of the federal government, MDA has committed more than $1 billion since our inception to accelerate the discovery of therapies and cures. Research we have supported is directly linked to approved, life-changing therapies across multiple neuromuscular diseases. We support the largest network of multidisciplinary clinics providing best-in-class care at more than 150 of the nation's top medical institutions, and each year thousands of children and young adults learn vital life skills and gain independence at MDA Summer Camp and through recreational programs. For more information visit

SOURCE: Muscular Dystrophy Association