| Posted: Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 07:30 pm
It was bright and brisk on Tuesday morning as a small group of firefighters climbed to the top of Fire Station #2, their new home until Friday. They were thankful that the temperatures were a far cry from the brutal weeklong cold snap that welcomed them in 2011 when they first ventured into the world of fundraising and awareness campaigns for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
“The weather is obviously not as nice as we’d like,” co-organizer Greg Harvey said during the opening ceremony, suggesting that the crew had their fingers crossed for a warm spell.
The Rooftop Campout (as it’s known) is a longstanding tradition in fire departments across North America. The brief sojourn is another way that our city’s firefighters demonstrate their dedication to community service and strive to save lives, even when they aren’t on active duty.
Jo-Ann Burton, the regional director of revenue development for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, explained that all of the money raised goes toward programs and services for people with neuromuscular disorders. Approximately $2.5 million was put in its coffers last year alone.
It does more than just bring in the dollars, however.
“The awareness that is created through these events is huge for our organization!” she exclaimed, adding how appreciative the clients and their families are as well. “This is the biggest event that happens for our organization all year.”
Even before the official launch, passersby noticed the signs, the tent and the gathering of people on the roof. They honked and turned in, kick-starting the campaign on a positive note. Every little bit counts because there are some bragging rights on the line as well.
Harvey confirmed that there is a rivalry, albeit a friendly one, between the St. Albert team and the other teams in this area, especially the one at Fire Station #2 in Edmonton’s downtown core.
“Competitive is good because it raises more money for the cause.”
In 2012, the St. Albert effort brought in $43,000, leading many to suggest that this year’s goal of $20,000 is far too modest.
“We’d rather beat our goal. We don’t know … there could be a four-day blizzard and then nobody is going to stop on the road,” he said, speculating that people could use any excuse like a recession or a slow economy to hold back donations. “Other departments fail in their goals pretty bad so we just want to have a goal that we can attain.”
“It’s sort of a morale thing. It worked for us the first year!” co-organizer Adam Colameco chimed in.
That road – Boudreau Road just next door to the RCMP detachment – is practically Bread and Butter Lane until Friday at noon. While the Edmonton team gets most of its fundraising from corporate donors, St. Albert brings in the bulk of its tally by commuters who pull in and throw a few bucks in the boot.
“St. Albert is phenomenal. I don’t know any other department that can raise $30,000 off the side of a road!” Harvey exclaimed.
The city’s firefighters have been actively involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada since 1971. The department is one of only 14 across the country, mostly in the western provinces, that hosts this event annually.
Along with the collection, the local team is also holding its annual online silent auction. Members of the public can check it out and make bids at www.stalbertfirefighters.com. The auction is open until Feb. 28.
For more information on muscular dystrophy, MD Canada or the Rooftop Campout campaign, people can visit www.muscle.ca.