NewsPositively Hampton Roads


People Taking Action: Local firefighter takes action fills his day filling the boot to help others!

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 18:00:13-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It's that time of the year where you'll see firefighters collecting donations for their Fill the Boot campaign benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The key organizer for Virginia Beach is Capt. William B.J. Raftery.

News 3 went to Fire Station 19 near Lynnhaven Parkway and Pleasant Valley Road to present him with a People Taking Action Award. But, B.J. is adamant it's a team effort supporting MDA.

It all helps people like Emily Wheeler, who was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy at 15. She remembers how stunned she was hear that news.

"Oh my goodness, I didn't really know... I walked out of the doctor's appointment and I didn't even know what I had."

Her mother, Dawn Wheeler, is so grateful for how these firefighters are taking action.

"Millions and millions of dollars have been dedicated to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and it's just selfless! It's just absolutely selfless what they do - hot summer days out on street corners," Dawn said.

The largest contributor to MDA are firefighters and their Fill the Boot campaign. In Virginia Beach, since BJ took over, the first year they raised $28,000; the second year, $30,000 and just last year they pulled in $35,000, and this year he's trying to top that figure.

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He feels very strongly about it.

"Because the strides MDA has made over the last couple of years in terms of the new drugs that are coming out there that are potentially life-changing for these individuals, it's another chance at a few more years. It's a chance at living a normal life, and they deserve that - every kid does."

For those reasons, in addition to presenting B.J. with a People Taking Action award, we also gave him a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

Always thankful, B.J. said they'd put the money toward Fill the Boot.

And, as we were wrapping up our story, a call came in.

Time to take action in another way.

Do you know someone who's worthy of a People Taking Action award? Click here to nominate them!