Improving lives with loose change: Local children give thanks for MDA donations

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CANTON – Firefighters here, like hundreds of others across the country, work daily to save lives and also take a few days every year to work on improving the lives of many.

“I know that nationwide last year the International Association of Professional Firefighters collected more than 50 million dollars for MDA and that money goes to research and all the other stuff for kids,” said Bill Matthews, MDA coordinator for the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters.

Firefighters in Canton carry their boots on several different days in July, August, and the Labor Day weekend and ask for donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

“I am really happy and really thankful for all the firefighters that are helping us,” said Caleb Burgess.

Caleb and his sister Olivia were both diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare genetic disease that could cause them to lose the ability to walk, eat and even breathe.

Their mother, Julie Gnap, said donations given to MDA for research has helped provide new treatments. Treatments that are helping her children live full lives.

Gnap says she is also grateful to the medical team at Akron Children’s Hospital.

The MDA also provides a week-long summer camp for kids, something they look forward to all year.

“We can talk to others that are in the same boat, it’s very helpful,” Olivia said.

She and Caleb also wanted to thank everyone who has ever thrown some money in a firefighter’s boot, saying that spare change, changed their lives.

“It’s hard to describe,” Olivia said. “I am just so thankful.”

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