At least for Friday, it's time for the community to come together and forget any disagreements over the soon-to-be-discontinued Batavia ambulance service, says Greg Ireland.
Friday is the 15th-annual "Fill the Boot" drive for MDA, a fundraiser sponsored by City of Batavia Firefighters IAFF Local 896.
Money collected during the fundraiser benefits children who are diagnosed with neuromuscular diseases. Donations cover the costs of everything from wheelchairs and braces to physical therapy, as well as summer camps.
"This year is as important as any to these kids," Ireland said in an e-mail. "There is no reason why our Union's disagreements with City Hall should get in the way of helping them. Sure there is a lot of tension around the Fire House right now with the impending layoffs, but that doesn't change the fact the the MDA needs our support."
Ireland said union members held a meeting recently and united around the need to ensure "Fill the Boot" came together again this year.
Off-duty members of Local 896, including firefighters and medics who will be out of work on Sept. 1, will be at the fundraiser at 1 Court St. on Friday.
Last year's "Fill the Boot" campaign set a record with $5,000 in donations.
"To me, the MDA is very important," Ireland wrote. "These kids have been sentenced to a life of pain and suffering for no apparent reason. If we can raise money to make their life easier in any way, it's worth it. For example, The MDA of Rochester has several day camps for the kids. I've visited there before, and to see the kids being kids, being able to do the things that normal children can do, it is really great. It gives them a day or two to just leave their illness behind and enjoy being a kid! It is quite touching to see."