Government Police/Fire

West Hartford Firefighters Present Large Check to Muscular Dystrophy Association

West Hartford firefighters presented a check for $23,920 to the MDA on Tuesday. From left: Battalion Chief John Griffin, Lt. Keith Albert, Taylor Salva, Branden Bohan, Neal Sinatro, Peter O'Hara, Brian Antigiovannni, and Ryan Shea. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A check for nearly $24,000 was presented to the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Tuesday by representatives of the West Hartford Fire Department.

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Fire Department has for years been one of the state’s biggest supporters of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), and on Tuesday morning presented a check for $23,920, monies raised through “Fill the Boot” and a beer tasting fundraiser held earlier this year.

“It’s absolutely amazing what they do,” said Connecticut MDA Executive Director Kevin Cassesse, who was on hand at the Brace Road Fire Station to accept the check. “We greatly appreciate everything they do for us.”

Statewide the local fire departments raised $286,000 in the past year, Cassesse said, and the West Hartford Fire Department ranks among the top five donors.

This year’s fundraising was spearheaded by firefighter Ryan Shea, who said it was his first year running the beer tasting event.

Shea said that he has always been aware of the MDA and the work it does. Growing up in West Hartford, he had a neighbor with muscular dystrophy, and his parents always volunteered at the local Labor Day telethon.

“It was always a charity I cared about,” said Shea. “A charity where you can actually see the effects, see where the money goes.”

Cassesse said that all of the money donated to the MDA by the West Hartford Fire Department stays in the state, where 1,400 families benefit through donations of wheelchairs, lifts, vehicle modifications, and other support. Right in West Hartford, there are recipients like Zeke McDonough, 15, who has muscular dystrophy and received a wheelchair from the organization, Cassesse said.

The “Fill the Boot” drive is traditionally held on Labor Day weekend, and the beer tasting was also held in September,

“Everybody was really generous,” Shea said.

The West Hartford Fire Department is current hosting another fundraiser – collecting for Toys for Tots.

All five fire stations serve as drop-off points, and new, unwrapped toys can be dropped of through Dec. 15, Lt. Jarrad Smith said.

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