NEW GLASGOW - For Daniel Arsenault, 13, the annual Pictou County Firefighters Association boot drive to support those with muscular dystrophy is a very special day.
Because Daniel has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, he knows that they’re helping to support people like him.
The form of the disease he has, called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has restricted him to a wheelchair.
“As of right now, there’s no cure for the disease,” said Lynn, Daniel’s mother. “It is terminal.”
This is why the firefighter’s fundraiser is so important, said Kenny, Daniel’s dad.
“I’ve been participating in the boot drive for the past 19 years. For all of us firefighters, it’s really important for us.”
But when Daniel was born, it hit home for all the fire departments in the county.
“He’s become our connection and reason for why we work hard to raise funds.”
The fundraiser started more than 30 years ago with the firefighter’s association dart club. Steven Cotter, treasurer of the Trenton Fire Department said they raise, on average, around $15,000 each year.
“I would venture to say that in the past 20 years, the association has raised $250,000 in support of those with muscular dystrophy.”
Cotter said around 100 firefighters will take part from 25 fire departments in Pictou County, including the fire departments from Michelin and Northern Pulp.
“So many support this because the money we raise here comes back to support people here in the county.”
Muscular Dystrophy Canada provides financial support to families to help them with the cost of mobility equipment as well as other services, including information and education.
Lynn, a nurse, has taken it upon herself to travel to schools in the county and raise awareness about the disease that affects her son. Likewise, Kenny is the firefighter advisor for Guysborough and Antigonish for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
But for Daniel, he’s just looking to live a normal life like any other 13-year-old boy.
“I like video games and playing on the computer,” he said.
Last summer, he got a chance to take part in a retreat for those with muscular dystrophy in the Annapolis Valley.
“I got to play air hockey and go on a boat tour.”
With funds from this year’s boot drive, he’ll be able to go on another retreat this summer.
The fundraiser started on Thursday and took place at 15 locations throughout the county including places in River John, Pictou, Lyons Brook, New Glasgow, Stellarton and Westville. This year’s total funds raised should be known on Monday.