Firefighters Fill-the-Boot for disease research


Sept. 9, 2010 at 4:09 a.m.

Bill Hassel, a former pastor living with a terminal motor neuron disease, plans to be out in his wheelchair Sunday helping firefighters.

The firefighters will be fundraising in the streets for the Muscular Dystrophy Association Fill-the-Boot campaign this weekend.

"One reason is to help the cause and the other is to thank my friends in the fire fighting department, giving their time for me and us in our time of need," he said. "It's really a great privilege."

Firefighters with both the Victoria County Volunteer Firefighters and the Victoria Professional Firefighter Association will fill their boots Saturday and Sunday.

All proceeds will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which also funds research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease Hassel has.

Hassel, who organized a support group for people with motor neuron diseases, estimates more than 20 families in the Victoria area are affected by some kind motor neuron disease like muscular dystrophy or ALS.

MDA also supports clinics at the Texas Children's Hospital and the Methodist Neurological Institute, where Hassel receives treatment.

His reasons for helping are simple.

"One, it's fun to give. Two, it's so needed," he said. "Compared to cancer, diabetes and other diseases that are more common and get more support, the MDA doesn't get as much."

MDA gives about $40 million for research for muscular dystrophy and about $14 million for ALS research.

The fundraiser is a project the International Firefighters Association has taken up and something local firefighters hope to continue.

"We're just now getting back to getting out there and supporting our community more and more," said Brad Franklin, vice-president of the Victoria Professional Firefighter Association.



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