Buffalo Grove firefighters donated their time in recent weeks to fighting — in addition to fires — muscular dystrophy.
Teams of volunteers, which also included firefighters' family members and village staff, took to the streets carrying worn fire boots, which were filled with donations from motorists and festival-goers in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
As of last week, the department had raised $20,400 for the organization.
"We're a little over $5,000 less than we did last year," said Joe Alexander, the Buffalo Grove Fire Department's union president and coordinator for the MDA drive.
Alexander said he thinks the decline was due to a shortage of volunteers rather than the weak economy. The department's efforts attracted 56 volunteers this year, about 30 short of last year, he said.
But donors still stepped up to support the cause, he added. The campaign ran from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 6 and Sept. 3, and continued during the village's Buffalo Grove Days festival and parade.
"We collected $1,200 during the Buffalo Grove Days parade, and that was the most we've ever raised," he said. "The residents were very generous."
"I'm very happy with the total," he said, adding that the department has collected about $255,000 for the cause over the last 18 years. The result, he said, is "not bad for a 70-man department."
The drive began as a union function, but has since grown into a village-wide event, attracting police officers, residents and the families of fire department staff as volunteers.
Donations range anywhere from a penny much larger contributions. "One donor gives $100 every year," Alexander said. "One year, we had a woman from Long Grove hand us a check for $500."
MDA Ambassador Seth Goldberg, who lives in Arlington Heights, knows firsthand the difference that money makes. The 27-year-old has received assistance from the MDA in getting new wheelchairs and medication.
"The main thing is the medication," said Goldberg, who assists at the Buffalo Grove and Arlington Heights events. "Without the medication, without the MDA, without the fire department, I wouldn't be here."
For the last 13 years, the Buffalo Grove Fire Department has received the MDA's "Golden Boot" award, in recognition for raising the most money out of all departments in Lake County. This year's award winners have not yet been announced.
While the fire department concentrates its fundraising efforts during the summer, contributions are accepted year-round, Alexander said. Checks payable to the Muscular Dystrophy Association can be dropped off at the department at any time, and will be forwarded to the organization, he said.
And, he added, "We'll be out there again next year."