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Archive for Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Firefighters recognized for advocacy efforts

August 6, 2002

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Though Jenny McGee spent hours Monday traveling in the heat from fire station to fire station, she still had plenty of energy at the end of the day.

"It doesn't tire me out to go around to talk to the firefighters," said McGee, 13. "They help so much and make half the money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association."

McGee, Baldwin, who was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, traveled to stations in Gardner, Baldwin, Perry and Lawrence to present firefighters with copies of a proclamation that Gov. Bill Graves signed July 18. Graves proclaimed August Kansas Firefighters/MDA Appreciation Month, citing their dedication to volunteerism and the Muscular Dystrophy Assn.

McGee presented Lt. Joe Mehl with the proclamation at Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Station No. 3.

Mehl began coordinating Lawrence's muscular dystrophy fund-raising efforts two years ago before he learned his son, Lucas, had the disease.

Lucas, 9, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a severe form of the disease, which prevents the production of a vital muscle protein and initially affects the muscles in the pelvis, upper arms and legs. The disease is progressive and eventually causes those diagnosed to lose complete control of their muscles.

"Coordinating the effort is more of a personal thing now because of him," Mehl said. "I think it's too late for him, but not for future kids."

The International Association of Firefighters will raise money with cooperation from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical through a Boot Block from Aug. 23-25 at various Lawrence business. The donations the firefighters collect will benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. Last year, $6,000 was raised locally and more than $15 million was raised nationally.

McGee, who serves as the Kansas State Ambassador for the association, said the money that the firefighters raise affected children like her.

"They help kids like me out so much," she said. "Today shows appreciation for what they do. And they get to meet me and see that money actually helps."

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