Muscular dystrophy, a group of muscle diseases that weakens the musculoskeletal system and hinders locomotion, affects many people.

It is characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, along with failings in muscle proteins, and may cause the death of muscle tissue and cells. With no known cure, it is critical that research continues, and funding is imperative if we are to one day obtain a cure. This is where you and your Bakersfield firefighters come into play.

Since 1954, the International Association of Fire Fighters has partnered with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to organize "Fill the Boot" fundraisers. Your Bakersfield firefighters will be out in force today at the intersection of Stockdale Highway and Gosford Road collecting your donations for our annual MDA "Fill the Boot 2013" campaign. Last year, with your help, we collected more than $43,000.

These vital funds are targeted toward research but they will also assist with seminars, therapy, summer camps, support groups, equipment assistance and clinical centers, along with other scientific information required to help those with muscular dystrophy to live as independently as possible. Many children with muscular dystrophy are given the opportunity to attend MDA summer camps right here in the Central Valley -- camps that are filled with hope, fun and excitement.

Your firefighters will be out collecting donations today from approximately 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. You will recognize us by our turnout pants, boots, blue shirts and smiles.

Anthony Galagaza

Professional Firefighters Local 246