MIAMI (CBS4) – South Florida firefighters have kicked off their ‘Fill The Boot’ campaign to benefit the the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Firefighters are appearing on street corners right now asking for donations. This as My TV33 prepares to air the annual MDA Telethon. The ‘Fill The Boot’ collection is an annual tradition for firefighters that has a particularly special meeting for one Broward Sheriff’s firefighter CBS4’s Cynthia Demos met up with.

Mike Bufalo walked the street corners with Demos asking people to donate. His father, Edward Bufalo was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy twenty years ago.

“This brings me a sense of accomplishment, to help those who were able to help us,” said Bufalo.

Edward Bufalo passed away 12 years ago.

Bufalo said he knows just how important the annual drive is because the MDA helped his family through the toughest time in their lives. Also hitting the streets with Bufalo is Lt. Fred Drusselt. He too has a special connection. He’s been collecting for 27 years. He said, “it’s so satisfying to be out here every year making a difference.”

It’s not just satisfying for the firefighters but for those who donate too. Demos spoke to people as they dropped money in the boots. She asked why they gave. They said they too are hoping for a cure and respect the firefighters for taking their time to chip in.

Last year BSO Firefighters raised $17,000. This year their goal is $25,000. The ultimate goal for the firefighters of course is to help find a cure.

Lt. Pam Mueller, who is organizing the MDA drive for BSO Firefighters, said “it’s my hope that in my lifetime that we find a cure for it and then firefighters will have to find another tradition.”

Until then, Bufalo shouts on the street corner, “we take pennies quarters nickels dimes. We take anything, what you got for me today.”

For the firefighters, it’s a mission, it’s a purpose, and for Mike Bufalo, it’s a passion. He said, “even though people who drive by don’t know, I know in my heart and it’s something special for me.”

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