After setting up a temporary set of stop signs for Mitchell Road traffic, off-duty Ceres firefighters collected an estimated $14,715 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association during the Saturday, Oct. 10 "Fill the Boot" collection effort.
The amount exceeded last year's collection effort of $14,085. The grand total includes donations collected on a website, firefighters using boots as cash receptacles in the street, and $500 donated by Kohl's Cares.
Stop signs and the signals were set to flash red at the entrance to In Shape City Health Club, meaning all cars had to stop as firefighters stood in the road positioned to collect cash for the charity. Firefighters from Ceres Professional Firefighters Local 3636 received a lot of smiles and words of thanks and encouragement but also heard some negative comments from some who were upset at the delay.
"The people who were upset about the traffic," said Ceres Fire Engineer Joe Spani who spearheaded the event, "were such a small number compared to the actual number who drive through and gave a donation."
Most of the drivers were willing to drop change into the boot but some apologized for lacking any spare cash.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a non-profit health agency dedicated to curing MD by funding worldwide research. The MDA also puts on special weeklong summer camps for children afflicted with the disease.
Spani said approximately 20 firefighters joined in the effort with five spending the whole time there from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Joining in the effort were Ceres Fire Chief Bryan Nicholes, Denair Fire Chief Daniel Schroeder, Denair Fire Captain Doug Repetto and Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Chief Paul Spani.
With muscular dystrophy, muscles get progressively weaker. Symptoms range "from mild muscle weakness to complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles, including those used for breathing and swallowing," according to the MDA's website.