Members of the Oneonta Fire Department were out trying to “fill the boot” Thursday as part of a changing Labor Day weekend fundraising event.
The national Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon, which previously included local segments, has “changed with the times,” Kate Houck, executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Central and South Central New York.
This is the first time in the telethon’s 48-year history it will broadcast on a single television network, ABC, from 9 to 11 p.m. In the new format, it is strictly a national broadcast, Houck said. Until a couple of year’s ago, the show that was seen on an assortment of stations that lasted 20 hours. Until this year, a local or regional telethon was also a regular part of the broadcast.
Oneonta firefighter Kevin Sweeney, who is overseeing the local Fill the Boot campaign, said the collecting is being done by members of the Oneonta Professional Firefighters Local 2408 as part of an effort by the International Association of Firefighters. The total raised in Oneonta was about $6,500, which is a little less than in previous years, Sweeney said.
“Some years are better than others,” he said, but the changes in the telethon were not a factor.
The International Association is the MDA’s largest national sponsor, Houck said.
Houck said about the changes in the broadcast, “I think it will be better,” because people will have an opportunity to watch the whole show and see the message.
“I think it will be a positive thing,” she said. Despite the new format, nothing has changed in the regional organizations support of local services and families, she said.