By ED FINKELSTEIN
When it comes to fire fighting and saving lives, we rely on the professionals, members of Fire Fighters Local 2665, the fire fighters union in St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin, Pike, Warren and St. Genevieve counties and Local 73, the fire fighters in the City of St. Louis.
But this group of men and women excel in another difficult area: raising money for charity.
Their most visible efforts are their annual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) “Fill the Boot” campaign for the MDA Labor Day Telethon. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is MDA’s largest, and oldest partner, a relationship that began in 1954.
LOCAL UNIONS EXCEL
And for this effort, Local 2665 has few peers in America, notes Toni Hails, MDA’s Central States Divisional director.
For example, in 2015, Local 2665 raised $262,498 making it the fifth ranking MDA fund raiser in the entire International Union. Between 2009 and 2016, Local 2665 raised an incredible $1,962,801 in its eight-county jurisdiction as the public put coins and bills into their boots.
In that same period, the much smaller St. Louis city Local 73 raised an incredible $198,403.
Since the beginning of the IAFF’s MDA support, fire fighters unions across America have raised $583 million for MDA research. Of that total, in just the past seven years, Missouri fire fighters have raised $4,217,451.
And their efforts are beginning to hit paydirt.
“For the first time ever, this September a drug was approved by the FDA for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Additional drugs are in front of the FDA currently for SMA and other neuromuscular diseases. We couldn't have done this without the support of the IAFF,” Hails said.
Here’s the fire fighters MDA support efforts for the past seven years:
“We’re proud of our fire fighters who not only support MDA, but any number of charitable causes in the communities we serve,” said IAFF 2nd District Vice President Mark Woolbright, adding:
“How the passage of the anti-union ‘right-to-work’ will impact this is yet to be seen, but it can’t be good, not only for MDA, but for so many charities that rely on working men and women to contribute to their favorite causes. If someone is earning less money, they will have less to give.”
He added that it’s important to note that all the money raised by the Missouri locals stays in Missouri.