TAYLOR — Taylor firefighters helped raise over $2,200 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Oct. 8. This week, Mayor Tim Woolley stopped at Fire Station No. 1 to celebrate the effort.
Since 1954, firefighters across the country have collected critical funds in the community – one dollar at a time – as part of the Fill the Boot program to raise money for the MDA.
The partnership between MDA and the International Association of Fire Fighters began when the IAFF signed a proclamation designating MDA as its charity of choice, vowing to continue raising awareness and funds to ensure effective treatments and therapies are found. The dollars raised through Fill the Boot fund MDA’s mission of empowering people living with neuromuscular disease to achieve their potential.
For more than 70 years, the MDA has been committed to saving and improving the lives of people living with muscular dystrophy and related life-threatening diseases.
In June 1950, Paul Cohen, a prominent New York business leader living with muscular dystrophy, invited a group of individuals to meet in his office. Each had a personal connection to muscular dystrophy, and the gathering focused on the urgent need to raise funds to advance research seeking treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy.
The group — so vested in the fight against neuromuscular diseases — formed the organization that became the Muscular Dystrophy Association. That year, MDA’s first research grant for $1,500 was awarded to neuromuscular disease pioneer Dr. Ade. T. Milhorat.
One of MDA’s first goals when it started in 1950 was to recruit celebrities who could help promote the newly created Muscular Dystrophy Association to the American public. Founder Paul Cohen met with renowned comedians and entertainers Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to urge them to become champions for the cause.
They agreed and began to make public appeals during their popular NBC network television show. Then in 1956, Martin and Lewis co-hosted their first MDA telethon from New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall.
Lewis hosted subsequent telethons in 1957 and 1959. In 1966, the first MDA Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon was broadcast by a single station in New York and was so successful that MDA selected Labor Day weekend for all future telethons. Throughout the decades, the legendary Labor Day broadcast originated from different locations including New York, Las Vegas and Hollywood.
The most successful fundraising event in the history of television, the show, with Lewis as its iconic host and with help from a legion of top celebrities and entertainers, raised nearly $2 billion during the years.