Firefighters step up to help family

Firefighters step up to help family

Independence Township Firefighter Nick Wilson fills one of his boots with donations from drivers on Main Street, July 25. The donations are helping a local family send an 11-year-old boy to MDA camp this summer. Photo by Phil Custodio

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Independence Township firefighters, Local 2629, collected almost three grand in four hours last week for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“It’s going great,” said Firefighter Nick Wilson, holding a boot more than half filled with donations from drivers on Main Street, with a couple hours left in the Fill the Boot fundraiser.
The firefighters collected donations at local intersections and businesses from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. on July 25.
“We haven’t done this in years,” said Wilson, Local 2629 president. “I thought this would be a great way to get out into the community and help out.”
Their Fill the Boot fundraising campaign will help the Steel family of Lake Orion – Chris and Dawn Steel, 13-year-old son Derek, and 11-year-old son Mason – send Mason, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), to MDA’s summer camp at Camp Cavell in Lexington, Mich.

Mason Steel enjoys a ride in a motorcycle at MDA camp. He’s heading back this year with the help of Clarkston drivers donating to the Independence Township firefighters’ Fill the Boot campaign. Photo provided

“Every year Mason looks forward to his week away at MDA camp, where he doesn’t feel left out because he can’t do the things that other kids his age can,” Dawn said. “His favorite activities at camp are tree climbing, horseback riding, getting to ride on a motorcycle, meeting the Lexington fire department, playing baseball and all the other fun activities they try to fit in. He has also made special friendships with those that volunteer and spend the week at camp with him. He enjoys seeing them every year at camp and the MDA Muscle Walk of Detroit.”
Firefighter Wilson campaigned on including the MDA program in Local 2629’s charitable activities this year
“We are thrilled to be working for the first time with the Independence Township firefighters,” said MDA Senior Funding Coordinator Aaron Lewber. “The Fill the Boot program helps provide the funds needed to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that severely limit strength and mobility. The dedication of these firefighters and IAFF to MDA’s mission is unwavering.”
Mason was diagnosed with DMD on June 27, 2014. The genetic mutation, which effects one out of 3,500-5,000 boys born worldwide, prevents the body from producing the protein muscles need to work properly. The disease, which causes muscle cells to become damaged and weakened, is currently irreversible, progressive, and incurable.
Over time, children with DMD develop problems walking and breathing, and eventually muscles helping the lungs and the heart stop working. More than 90 percent of children with DMD will be in a wheelchair by age 15.
“Mason is a sweet, brave, wonderful 11-year-old,” Dawn said. “He is interested in Minecraft, YouTube, model airplanes and robotics. He also enjoys rides on his dad’s motorcycle and riding around the neighborhood in his electric wheelchair. “
An MDA representative was there at the time of diagnosis to support the family, she said.
“When we first received this diagnosis, we were devastated. We felt we were just given a death sentence for our then 7-year-old son,” she said. “The diagnosis was very difficult to deal with and, as parents, all we wanted to do was protect our son and give him the best possible life.”
The Mason family has also participated in the annual MDA Muscle Walk every year for the past 3-4 years. This year, Mason was a Shambassador in March and went to his local Kroger store to thank employees participating in the sale of Shamrocks to raise funds for the MDA.
Funds raised through programs like Fill the Boot helped send two children from Clarkston to MDA summer camp this year. This year, MDA of Greater Detroit provided camp to 87 children. Summer camp per child costs over $2,000. Contributions also help fund research and life-enhancing programs such as state-of-the-art support groups and Care Centers, including the MDA Care Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, and the University of Michigan Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Ann Arbor. Learn how to help fund cures, find care and champion the cause at mda.org.