RFD works to benefit MDA
According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association website, the MDA “is a nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.
“MDA combats neuromuscular diseases through programs of worldwide research, comprehensive medical and support services, and far-reaching professional and public health education.
“With national headquarters in Tucson, MDA has 120 local offices across the country, sponsors 200 medical clinics and supports more than 250 research projects around the world.”
The Russellville Fire Department works with MDA to help raise both awareness for the group and money to help fund research to fight the diseases MDA covers.
Shane Mansell and Dale Morris of RFD put together a charity softball tournament at Lee Complex Saturday to help out with the cause.
“We usually do MDA [fundraisers] with the fire department,” Morris said. “We go out on the streets at intersections.
“For a long time about 80 percent of the people we asked to give didn’t know what we were doing it for, so I asked to bring everyone together with the representatives from MDA to enlighten people more about what’s going on with MDA, what the money is for and to know let people know the money is kept in the state of Alabama.
“It is used for local kids to go to camps and for people to do research with.”
Briana Carson, a local representative for MDA, was on hand to help out with the tournament.
“I work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, where we like to refer to ourselves as the ‘Muscle People,’” she said. “There are 42 different muscle diseases that we cover.
“A lot of the time people are more familiar with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or even Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which we see quite often here in Alabama. In our office we cover north and central Alabama.
“All of the funds stay local. We cover research, which we actually have somebody doing research at UAB, and we cover clinic visits. They go to eight different doctors at one time so they don’t have to pay eight different copays. They go one time during one day of the month.
“They get everything covered, and that’s something that MDA completely pays for. We also pay for summer camp, which we just finished. It’s about $800 to send a kid to camp.
“We are very lucky and blessed to have that. We always have a strong need for male counselors, because a good portion of our campers are Duchenne boys, and Duchenne affects young boys before they are nine or 10 years old, and they are in power wheelchairs.
“Their life expectancy is in the 20s. Shane Mansell was one of our counselors this year, and he did an amazing job.
“It was his first year, and we know it will be the first of many. He was just one of the best, it was amazing. This is my first year with MDA and it will be the first of many.”
The program that RFD hosts is called “Fill the Boot.” Members of the fire department will be seen at different places around the county with a firefighter’s boot. The idea is to fill the boot from sole to top with donations for MDA.
“I work with the firefighters, and we do the ‘Fill the Boot’ program,” Carson said. “Every year the firefighters get very creative, and Shane and Dale have been trying to explore what we can do to make it bigger and better.
“A lot of times you will see them in intersections and in front of Walmart working to fill the boot, and to add to that they put together this event. They are talking about doing a golf tournament in the future.
“This has been something originated by them. They wanted to do more, so my job is to make sure that happens and see how big we can make it.”
This year Mansell and Morris came up with the idea to have a softball tournament, and many different groups showed up to help out with the event and the cause.
“I’ve got people from everywhere here,” Morris said. “I’ve got people from the fire department, the police department has a team, and there are a couple teams from Haleyville.
“A couple of the teams are some of my little league coaches and dads. Basically we all came together, each team came up with at least 10 people and it all kind of fell in place. We have a bunch of good people out here helping us.”
The members of the RFD who help out with fundraising efforts for MDA are very passionate about their work, and as far as Morris is concerned, he knows why different members of the department have chosen this cause to fight for.
“Mansell is the representative from the fire department. He just came back from a camp they put on, and he said it was a very enlightening experience. He came straight here from camp to help us out,” Morris said.
“It means a lot. I enjoy helping the kids, and I enjoy helping an organization where I know where the money goes. We see it firsthand. We meet some of the families helped out.”
For more information about helping out the MDA through donations or other services, visit www.mda.org.