In 1950, a group of adults suffering from neuromuscular diseases partnered up with parents of children also suffering from neuromuscular diseases to create the Muscular Dystrophy Association. For more than 60 years the Muscular Dystrophy Association, commonly known as MDA, has been providing research and support to millions of Americans. The association has been recognized by the American Medical Association “for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity.”
The organization offers services and care to patients and family that would otherwise not be available. With an umbrella of more than 40 neuromuscular diseases, the association offers services to more than 1.5 million Americans through one of its 120 offices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. MDA raises funds to support research and development to combat the growing number of neuromuscular diseases. Of all the programs and services offered through the MDA it is important to note that they are funded almost entirely through volunteered contributions of concerned citizens, private companies and cooperating organizations.
Muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease in which the patient slowly loses his or her ability to use his or her muscles. Typically the disease starts “away” from the body and slowly works its way toward the core. Patients first notice cramping in their feet and legs with an increase in pain. Slowly the muscles become rigid and hard, and begin to lose shape and definition, also known as muscle atrophy.
Most types of muscular dystrophy are multisystem, meaning that slowly but surely the disease will shut down the patient’s gastrointestinal system, lungs, eyes, brain and heart. In short, the patient’s body shuts down with the brain and cognitive recognition going last.
The MDA offers life-changing services to patients of all ages who are suffering from muscular dystrophy. MDA-funded scientists are on the cutting edge of research at facilities all over the world. They are researching and developing potential treatments, cell-based therapies and potential tests used to diagnose and treat early signs of muscular dystrophy.
The clinics, found nationwide, offer a system of professionals eagerly devoted to the patient and their individual cause. They offer resources and information to patients that would otherwise not be available. Also offered is a wide diversity of personal patient care, patient advocacy and assistance with medical services. After a patient is diagnosed with muscular dystrophy they are often scared, lost and in the dark. The MDA sheds light onto the situation, offering a hand up and help to those most desperately in need.
The Boulder City Fire Department will again be participating in Fill the Boot, a fundraiser held by thousands of fire departments nationwide to raise support, awareness and money for the MDA. Boulder City Fire Department raised more than $350 last week at the Fine Arts Festival and plans to triple that number this weekend. Our goal is to raise more than $1,000 total for the three weeks we will be participating.
Firefighters will be out in the public looking for your donations and will have a booth set up this weekend at the Spring Jamboree. Booths will also be at Albertsons and Vons in the early morning hours through the afternoon.
The firefighters at BCFD highly encourage you to join efforts in raising social awareness and to donate to the cause. Come meet your local firefighters and help “Fill the Boot!”
For more information regarding muscular dystrophy, or any of the 40-plus diseases that the MDA helps support please contact me at the firehouse at 293-9228 or log onto www.mda.org. If you would like to make a donation to contribute and are unable to make it to the Fill the Boot event this weekend, you can contact Cody Racine at the firehouse at 293-3515.
Brian Shea is a Boulder City paramedic/firefighter. If you have further questions about this or any fire safety issue, contact the Boulder City Fire Department at 293-9228.