Western Springs Fire Department to fill the boot
Updated: October 2, 2012 9:33AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — On Aug. 24 and 25, firefighters will man the streets and storefronts in town with their boots in hand, collecting change from cars and pedestrians. What many residents may not be familiar with, though, is how many close ties the Fill-the-Boot program for the Muscular Dystrophy Association has to the Western Springs Fire Department.
Chief Pat Kenny, Deputy Chief Gary Mayor and Lt. Dick Jacobson of the Western Springs Fire Department have all seen first-hand the effects of muscular dystrophy, specifically ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a diagnosis that 30,000 Americans face each year. ALS causes paralysis, muscle destruction, and, at times, the inability to speak or swallow. Ultimately, those diagnosed are given a life expectancy of 3-5 years.
In 1999, Kenny’s brother in-law and Glen Ellyn Police Sgt. Bob Madden was diagnosed with ALS. For eight years, Madden battled the disease with the relentless support of his family and friends. Madden passed away in May 2007 as a result of ALS.
Mayor also experienced the devastating progression of ALS when his mother was diagnosed in 1989.
Mayor’s mother passed away two years after her diagnosis in 1991. Just eight years later, his wife’s aunt was also diagnosed with the disease.
While both Kenny and Mayor have personal ties to ALS, Dick Jacobson is facing his own experience with the disease. Diagnosed last September, Jacobson and his family are adapting to life with ALS.
“Daily living is much more difficult from getting out of bed, showering, getting myself breakfast, and getting into and out of the car,” said Jacobson. “We are spending a lot of time adjusting almost everything in our lives to accommodate the future, which we know will become way more difficult than it is now.”
With three major connections to ALS and even more links to other forms of muscular dystrophy among this 62-member department, the men and women of the Western Springs Fire Department are determined to make 2012 the most successful Fill-the-Boot Drive in their history. Their goal is to raise $12,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association during the two days collecting on the streets.
The first day of the drive will be from 6 a.m. to noon Aug. 24 downtown, and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Wolf Road.
The drive continues from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 25 at Wolf and Hillgrove roads, Wolf and Burlington roads, and in front of Kirschbaum’s Bakery.
The money raised from the Western Springs Fill-the-Boot Drive will help the Muscular Dystrophy Association fund research, medical clinics, and support groups, loan durable medical equipment, and send children affected by muscular dystrophy to their own summer camp in Ingleside, Illinois. The funds collected will stay local and help 13 families in the Western Springs community that are affected by neuromuscular disease.