HENDERSON, Ky. – Bennett is a typical 5-year-old who loves “Paw Patrol” (and especially Marshall the Dalmatian), “The Secret Life of Pets” and fire trucks.
But Bennett, who lives in Henderson with his parents Janyna and Brian Russelburg, also has some challenges because of his diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
The little boy is the 2016 Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association serving Kentucky and Southwest Indiana, and he’s one reason that Henderson Fire and Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 2290 will be doing their annual “Fill The Boot” collection for MDA this weekend.
The annual campaign kicked off last Tuesday when Bennett visited Henderson Fire Department Station One. MDA representatives introduced the firefighters to the family, heard the story about their life with muscular dystrophy from Janyna Russelburg, who is a public school teacher, and learned a little about history between firefighters and MDA. It’s a 60-year-old relationship.
After that, Bennett got to climb on the fire trucks and practice spraying the fire hose.
The “Fill The Boot” fundraising campaign helps kids and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases live longer and grow stronger.
The local drive will take place starting at 10 a.m. on Aug. 5, Aug. 6 and Aug. 7 at all three local Sureway locations.
More than 50 members of Local 2290 will have boots in hand as they greet shoppers and others outside the stores, asking them to make a donation in support of MDA’s mission to find treatments and cures for muscle-debilitating diseases that severely weaken muscle strength and mobility.
“We couldn’t be more proud to kick off this year’s ‘Fill the Boot’ campaign alongside the inspiring, selfless individuals of the Henderson Fire Department and Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 2290 who make a profound impact on our families’ health, wellbeing and quality of life,” said MDA Fundraising Coordinator Mary Fowler. “Together with their unwavering ‘Fill the Boot’ support, we will raise critical funds and awareness to empower kids and adults in Henderson with life-enhancing resources and support that will open new possibilities so they can live a life without limits.”
Funds raised also help send more than 20 local kids to “the best week of the year” at MDA summer camp at no cost to their families at the Center for Courageous Kids.
Bennett may be one of those kids when he gets just a little older.
Last year, Local 2290 raised $3,050 during the “Fill The Boot” campaign. Their goal this year is $3,500.
International Association of Fire Fighters’ support for MDA began in 1954. The IAFF raised $100,000 for MDA in 1955, and $1 million in 1970.
In 2015, more than 100,000 fire fighters participated in Fill the Boot events across the country and raised $25.5 million. To date the IAFF has raised $583 million for MDA.
MDA Goodwill Ambassador Bennett Russelburg prepares to add Henderson Fire Chief Scott Foreman’s money to the boot at the MDA Kick-off on July 27. Also pictured is Bennett’s mom, Janyna Russelburg.
Bennett takes the driver’s seat in one of the Station One trucks.
Henderson Fire Lt. Josh Dixon helps Bennett down the steps at Henderson Fire Station One on his way to see the fire trucks.
Dixon explains to Bennett what’s going on as firefighters get a fire call and leave the station during his visit.
(Images: Henderson Fire Department)