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Fired FFs Brave the Heat to Honor a Good Cause

Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix

July 25, 2011

Bryan Schwesing donned his fireman’s hat and braved the heat and humidity Sunday as he walked down the center lane of Eureka Road near Telegraph in Taylor carrying a boot in hopes of raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

As sweat rolled down his face, Schwesing thanked the motorists who rolled down their windows to put dollar bills and coins inside his black-and-yellow boot.

Schwesing is one of 19 Taylor firefighters who were laid off July 1 because of city budget constraints, yet he waved and smiled as he used his time Sunday to help others.

The Taylor Fire Fighters Local No. 1252 has participated in the MDA’s Fill the Boot campaign for more than five years, and the layoffs were not going to impede this year’s efforts, Schwesing said.

“A lot of the guys who were laid off have been out here,” said Schwesing, who has chaired the event three years. “Some guys who are working 96 to 120 straight hours are coming out after their shifts to help.”

By Sunday morning, the firefighters had raised $10,000 in cash; coin donations were being tallied. The three-day event started Friday morning.

Last year, the Taylor firefighters raised $12,000; they anticipate raising $15,000 this year from donations and T-shirt sales.

Sherry Menna noticed Schwesing collecting money after she stopped at a nearby 7-Eleven. She donated $10.

“This is the community, and people need help,” Menna said. She said she was touched to learn that the firefighters were helping others despite being laid off.

The Fill the Boot campaign is one of the largest fund-raisers for the MDA. Last year, Michigan firefighters raised about $400,000, said Sarah Grutza, the organization’s fund-raising coordinator.

The International Association of Firefighters has participated in the campaign since 1954, Schwesing said.

During that time, firefighters have raised $450 million for the organization, Grutza said.

“This boot drive is one of the most impressive I have attended,” Grutza said of the Taylor firefighters. “They have been out here in the heat, the rain and in their gear.”

Firefighter Miles Jarvis and his 14-year-old son Drake Jarvis also participated. Miles Jarvis was laid off, but was called back to work recently.

“There are certain charities we take care of no matter what,” Miles Jarvis said.