Community leaders locked up

Published 9:38 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

Janet Carr with the Suffolk Police Department was locked up at the MDA Lock-up to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. “(Carr) was found guilty of having a big heart,” said Naomi Riddick, health care services administrative assistant with MDA.

City police officers and firefighters, local business owners and community leaders were taken into custody Thursday.

These citizens and community leaders were “held” at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road for an hour or until they were able to raise $2,000 to post bond. The lockup was a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The accommodations were a far cry from actual jail, however. The 44 inmates were served pizza and subs and could move around as they pleased, but they took their sentence very seriously.

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Judy Brown of H&R Block served a double sentence to raise more money for MDA.

“I did it by choice,” she said. “I served more time because I wanted to call more people.”

She raised $650 before she left.

At least Brown got to serve her sentence with some friends. Other H&R Block employees were there, as well.

“They called me and it seemed like a wonderful way to help,” Maria Hardin said. “I took advantage of it and called a few friends with the Block and asked them to do it with me.”

Lt. Mason Copeland of the Suffolk Fire Department served his first MDA sentence this week, but he has been involved in different MDA fundraisers and projects over the last 30 years. The fire department regularly participates in the “Fill the Boot” campaign, and he has volunteered at the MDA summer camp as a cook for the kids.

Summer camp is beneficial for kids with muscular dystrophy, Copeland said. The camp gives kids with muscular dystrophy the chance to meet others with the condition and participate in a variety of activities that they might not get to do otherwise. Each child is assigned a counselor and there are doctors on staff at all times.

“Kids really look forward to going each year,” Copeland said. “It’s a rewarding way to give back and help those kids who have been given a life sentence since birth.”

Thursday’s lockup funds the summer camp, among other projects.

The Suffolk event was organized by MDA of Hampton Roads, which serves the entire Hampton Roads area, Williamsburg, the Outer Banks and the Eastern Shore. The organization serves 800 families in the region, and 43 different diseases fall under the muscular dystrophy umbrella, according to Julie Braley, executive director for MDA of Hampton Roads.

The MDA of Hampton Roads holds lockups in each city in Hampton Roads, and also does other fundraising events, including selling paper shamrocks for $1 for people to hang up in participating stores.

The lockup covers the cost of the MDA’s many services and programs to assist people of all ages, including summer camp; to assist with the costs of repairs to durable medical equipment including wheelchairs, walkers and scooters; to pay for research priced at $74 per minute; and more, Braley said.

“The families make it all worth it,” she said. “We advocate for them.”

The lockup raised more than $19,000 Thursday, said Brooke Briggs, fundraising coordinator for MDA of Hampton Roads.

“I started crying,” Briggs said. “It was the first time ever that we hit the goal and the best we’ve done in Suffolk.”

“I’m glad to be a part of this worthy cause,” said Rodney Sanders, owner of GODHAP 4 Fitness. “We are all here to be a blessing to someone else.”