the Boot campaign to begin Wednesday
By George Myers KOKOMO
- Kokomo firefighters will kick off the department’s annual Fill the
Boot fundraiser on Wednesday, roughly a month after department
personnel and city officials publicly debated a new restriction placed
on where firefighters could collect money.
announced Monday in a press release by the Muscular Dystrophy
Association, members of the Kokomo Professional Firefighters Local 396
will collect money starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
at various intersections throughout the city.
intersections include Washington and Superior streets; Center Road and
Cartwright Drive; Apperson Way and Morgan Street; Dixon and Alto roads;
Dixon Road and Jefferson Street; and Boulevard Street and Indiana 931.
year, Kokomo firefighters dedicate countless hours of their time
participating in Fill the Boot drives and at MDA Summer Camp,” said MDA
Executive Director Sonja Cronin in the release, noting more than 90
firefighters will take part in the campaign.
grateful for their steadfast drive and uncommon caring toward the kids
and adults we serve and look forward to working together once again to
make this Fill the Boot season a huge success.”
surrounding the fundraiser became public at a Sept. 26 Common Council
meeting when firefighters expressed frustration at the city’s decision
to prohibit them from standing in roadways to collect money.
the city requested that firefighters stand on sidewalks or in front of
local businesses. At the time and since the meeting, city officials
have defended the decision as a necessary precaution focused on
firefighter safety, a notion strongly disputed by some in the Kokomo
local firefighters decided to discontinue the debate. This week,
firefighters will stand on sidewalks and in front of fire stations to
collect money for Fill the Boot.
glad that they agreed to go ahead and do it,” said Kokomo Fire Chief
Nick Glover. “Some fundraising is obviously better than none.”
excited to get started on Fill the Boot was Kokomo firefighter and
Local 396 President Chris Frazier, although he characterized the start
of this year’s campaign as a bittersweet one.
said the move out of Kokomo roadways could cost Fill the Boot as much
as two-thirds of fundraising, according to MDA estimates. Overall, the
campaign raised on average $22,000 per year for 22 local families
before the positioning change.
just doing it like they told us we had to do it,” said Frazier. “We
would rather do it and collect some money than not do it at all. We
were never looking to not do it; we were looking to do it like we
said that amid the controversy he met with Kokomo Deputy Mayor David
Tharp, during which the city’s position was quickly reiterated.
also called the city’s safety concerns “completely erroneous,” and
noted the fire department still responds to all calls while Fill the
Boot is taking place, stating there are no adverse effects to doing the
fundraiser while on duty.
we’re just going to do the same thing except we are going to stand on
the sidewalks, and we are going to see how that works,” he said.
response, Tharp said he is excited that firefighters decided to get
started on Fill the Boot and again referenced the need for the
controversial safety precautions.
an interview Monday, Tharp also noted that he had multiple
conversations with Frazier to reaffirm and explain the city’s position
as “settled policy.”
are very glad that they reconsidered and are going to go ahead and go
through with Fill the Boot,” he said. “We think that Fill the Boot is a
great program and we think that this is a fantastic way to raise money
for MDA while keeping our firefighters as safe as they can be while
Tharp previously noted, a decision was made last month by the Columbus,
Ohio, fire department to halt its Fill the Boot campaign after a
firefighter was hit by a car.
to a USA Today report in October 2015, at least seven U.S. cities or
counties by that point had stopped firefighters from collecting
donations at busy intersections due to safety concerns. Tharp said
concerns about Kokomo’s campaign began after the report.
Myers can be reached at 765-454-8585, by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gpmyerskt.