Columbus Fire & EMS is busting out the boots for the last time this year in support of youth suffering from muscular dystrophy.
Today through Sunday, firefighters will implore shoppers at popular stores such as Walmart, K-Mart, Piggly Wiggly and Winn Dixie for donations that will support area families and residents affected by the disease. The firefighters will be accepting donations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The department holds several boot drives and fundraisers during the year for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Fire Marshal Ricky Shores said about $20,000 is generally collected for the nonprofit each year, but the department always strives to beat its best record.
"We hit it hard," Shores said. "We have trucks out there for hours at a time and still have to provide protection for the citizens. It's a busy event, but it's worth it."
During the Firefighter MDA 5K held in June, Shores said the department raised $8,000, a leap from the $5,000 or $6,000 raised during the inaugural race held in 2012. He hopes this last muscular dystrophy drive will place the department well above their usual yearly total.
"I'm hoping that we're going to break one of our all-time records," Shores said. "So hopefully everyone will come out and help us support a good cause."
Through donations, MDA provides services such as wheelchairs, physician visits and flu shots for patients. Children suffering from the disease receive the opportunity to attend a summer camp for children similarly diagnosed.
Shores said the depart
ment has had the opportunity in the past to meet some of the children aided by money raised during Columbus fundraisers.
He said the experience helps firefighters keep who they are serving in mind, and also adds perspective to life's troubles.
"Sometimes, these guys lose sight of why they're doing this, but then they see these kids," Shores said.
"If you ever see these kids and see them hurting while walking around, you don't have any problems."