Collections help Fill-the-Boot

Charity: Area money contributed this weekend goes to MDA

ckrotzer@theolympian.comSeptember 2, 2012 

Two dozen volunteers wearing florescent orange vests, holding signs and rubber boots descended upon Olympia on Saturday with a goal of raising $15,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The Fill-the-Boot campaign, sponsored by the Olympia Fire Department, is the single largest collection day of the year, according to Fire Lt. Steve Bradley.

Bradley said they have raised $9,500 so far with smaller events this year and were confident the weekend crowds would bolster numbers to their $15,000 goal.

It is the last collection push of the year.

Helping collect funds was Alex Penny, an 11-year-old Olympia boy diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was 4.

Alex went on a “Mission Impossible” themed adventure in February as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The trip took him from his Olympia home in a limousine to Seattle where he saw robots in action at Seattle Children’s Hospital, helped police officers at Sea-Tac Airport and had dinner at the Space Needle.

He also met members of Microsoft’s Team Xbox, who were working on a competition robot.

Since then, Alex was selected as the Washington State Patrol’s chief for a day.

“I did tell everybody they could get one free coffee, but I’m not sure how well that went over,” Alex said.

He wore his WSP uniform during prom at MDA camp last month, according to his father, Ty Penny.

Penny was trying to encourage Alex to attract donations from drivers. The father and son were stationed on the corner of Division Street and Harrison Avenue.

“I’m trying to get him to wave at cars as they drive by, but he’s not into that,” Penny said.

The family has been involved in the Fill-the-Boot campaign for years.

“He’s kind of our MDA poster child,” Bradley said.

Alex’s family, friends and classmates helped collect throughout the morning along with firefighters.

All were stationed at three spots, two in downtown and the one new spot in west Olympia.

Among them was Arel Solie, who has a daughter in Alex’s class.

“Everyday that I think my life is tough, I look at Alex and he has this smile across his face,” Solie said.

A block south were Alex’s grandmother, Margaret Lord, and aunt Mary Siegel.

“You got change? I’ve got a boot!” Lord shouted to passing cars.

She swing the boot back and forth hoping to catch the attention of drivers.

“We do great as long as my arms hold out,” Lord said. “People are very generous.”

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