MDA, local firefighters team up to help fight muscular dystrophy
Michael Chamberlain never really thought about giving back until a good friend his age died of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
By 23, Chamberlain’s friend, Bryant Rogers, had squeezed the most out of his short life and is remembered for adoring sunshine and hot sauce.
“Now, since he’s passed away, it’s helped me to understand I have a need to fill,” Chamberlain said Sunday while collecting money outside of the Rimrock Avenue Walmart for Musclar Dystrophy Association, MDA Western Colorado.
Chamberlain, who uses a Segway to travel longer distances, also cited the help the local chapter offered him when he and family moved to Grand Junction from the Denver area more than 20 years ago. Chamberlain was still crawling when other children were learning to walk and he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, though not the serious form of Duchenne muscular dystrophy that is usually fatal for males in their teens or early 20s.
Support from the MDA Western Colorado helped Chamberlain’s family set up doctor appointments in Denver and allowed him for years to go to camp where he met a number of lifelong friends who also face physical disabilities.
For the first time on Sunday, Chamberlain spent part of his day proudly displaying a firefighter’s boot, gathering change and dollars from shoppers. He hoped that by raising money he could help others and fund research for a cure.
His shift was worth it when a family with a young boy with muscular dystrophy stopped to talk on their way into the store.
“It’s a pretty touching issue and near to my heart,” Chamberlain said. “Unfortunately, you know they’re going to pass on at a certain age.”
The annual Fill-the-Boot campaign that typically is held over the Labor Day weekend continues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in front of several City Market grocery stores, Home Depot and Albertsons on the Redlands.
The fundraising effort is 60 years old this year, a partnership that always includes the help of local firefighters.
Land’s End firefighter Jared Midgley got his whole family out Sunday to encourage folks to give donations. They were his wife, Staci, their sons, Michael, 16, Davin, 11, and Will, 9, and the couple’s daughter, Savannah, 14.
Staci Midgley said the experience is good for her children.
“They’re getting to see that they are making a difference instead of me just telling them they are making a difference,” she said.
Three firefighters’ boots at the Walmart site were “getting heavy” with donations Sunday, but final local totals will be available in a few days, said Kendall Montagriff, executive director for MDA Western Colorado.
The organization offers services to 60 families on the Western Slope, she said. Being in the news recently with a recording-breaking, $100 million fundraiser, “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” has also highlighted muscular dystrophy because it is one of the 43 muscular diseases the MDA works to raise money to fight under the agency’s umbrella, Montagriff said.
ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known at Lou Gehrig’s Disease, attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and causes muscles to lose control and movement.
A wildly popular internet campaign has prompted thousands of people to pour buckets of icy cold water over their heads, post the videos on social media and make a donation.
Michael Midgley said he liked being part of the movement and hype to raise awareness for musclar dystrophy.
“It’s like the only thing I see on Facebook anymore,” he said.
MDA Western Colorado has a goal raising $15,000 over the long weekend. Rimrock Walmart donated $750 toward the total, the charity said.