The annual Fill The Boot campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has become a Labor Day tradition at the "Y" in Soldotna, a tradition that has wrought cash dividends for the fight against Muscular Dystrophy.
This year, in addition to the firefighters and volunteers that solicit the passing traffic at the Y, the Freestone family decided to fill a boot in front of the Central Emergency Services station. "There were a lot of people that drove by the Y that didn't get a chance to donate because of the traffic, so me and my family decided to give people a chance to come by the station and fill a boot here," said Ardin Freestone. Ardin and his wife Kathy along with their children Justin, Adam and Randi know first hand the importance of the work that MDA does in Alaska. "Both my sons Justin and Adam have Muscular Dystrophy and we've been involved with MDA for probably more than 10 years now. Adam has been an MDA Goodwill Ambassador last year and this year. One thing about Alaskans, they take care of Alaskans, and every penny collected in Alaska for MDA stays in Alaska," said Ardin.
"MDA has helped us to deal with the situation. About three years ago Justin ended up on a ventilator and MDA was there with people who stopped by the hospital every day to offer support during the three weeks Justin was in the ICU. When it was time for the boys to go to camp MDA was there and it's great to know that there is someone out there to help and be there for us," added Kathy Freestone. The Freestone family has also been involved and featured on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for the last seven years. "I just want to thank everyone that came by to give a donation, it really helps the families," added Justin.
This year's Fill the Boot campaign broke all local records according to Fire Marshall Gary Hale. "This year with the great support of this community we came in with an all time high of $16,100, we've set a new record every year and in '01 & '02, we did $15,300," said Hale, who doubles as the clown Capt. Burnee. Hale didn't do any clowning around this year and worked the boot in his fire helmet rather than the yellow hair and red nose. "This year we got so busy scheduling my street walkers, or worker bees, for this event that I just ran out of time this year, so the Captain who may have had an attitude this year went by the wayside," said Hale. However, unreliable sources confirmed that the Captain Burnee and Edith would appear at the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon on KTUU in Anchorage to present the record-breaking check to MDA. The signboard at CES symbolically glows a simple thank you from the men, women, and volunteers that filled this year's boot to overflowing.
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