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Long week for a good cause

It was a long week for Joe Jarman and Travis Saunders, but they took a huge leap of faith to raise some money and bring attention to a great cause.

Jarman, a Fire Medic 2 with the Suffolk Department of Fire & Rescue, and Lt. Saunders, have 29 years of combined firefighting experience and are members of Suffolk Professional Firefighters Local 2801. They are also avid fundraisers for the Fill the Boot campaign, which raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

They decided they would walk from Virginia Beach to Richmond to bring in money for the MDA, and bring it in they did — they wound up raising about $10,000, with a match from an anonymous donor, to bring the total to more than $20,000.

They started last Sunday by the statue of King Neptune at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. They attracted roadside attention as well as media coverage all along the way, through South Hampton Roads, their hometown of Suffolk, and all the way to Richmond. Their final walk in Richmond saw an escort from Richmond firefighters and law enforcement officers as well as a large contingent of walkers.

Along the way, their motivation came from knowing they were helping to raise money to fight the devastating disease of muscular dystrophy and provide support for families suffering from the disease.

The MDA is encouraging states to expand newborn screening programs for neuromuscular conditions by adding tests for specific disorders. This would give newborns with these conditions the best possible chance at receiving the care and support services they need as early as possible.

Louise Zingaro, the executive director of the MDA of Greater Virginia, said the partnership between the MDA and firefighters has helped the organization provide services to those affected by these conditions for the past 65 years. Research has revealed more than six new treatments that help to slow the progress of these debilitating conditions and build hope for the families that are affected by them.

It’s not too late to support the effort to “give muscular dystrophy the boot.” Search “March for MDA” on filltheboot.donordrive.com to make a donation.