LaPorte Fire Department flexes its fundraising muscles

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Wearing the LPFD pink T-shirts are (front row, from left): Gary Smith, Bill Lott, Maria Fruth of LaPorte Hospital Foundation, Matthew Schuster, and Andy Snyder. Back row, from left: Dr. Hester Muller, Brian Gray and Michael Boardman. (CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE)

Besides protecting the community, the LaPorte Fire Department is showing its muscle as a powerful fundraising group.

— The LaPorte squad raised $11,203 in its 2011 Fill-the-Boot drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. That’s the highest raised by any of the 32 departments in the region that held drives. LaPorte FD’s total, which was $2,000 higher than last year’s, bested the amounts raised by fire departments in larger towns such as South Bend, Elkhart and Hammond. In fact, Hammond’s total was a distant second to LaPorte’s at $8,500.

All told, the 32 departments raised $100,000 for MDA. The funds will go toward sending children with muscle diseases to a summer camp, as well as supporting a no-cost clinic in Elkhart, research, and medical equipment.

— LaPorte Firefighters IAFF Local 363 sold pink T-shirts during the month of October to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. Proceeds were donated to the LaPorte Hospital Foundation to support its breast cancer prevention efforts.

Maria Fruth, executive vice president/chief operating officer of LaPorte Hospital Foundation and Dr. Hester Muller, supervising radiologist for mammogram services at IU Health LaPorte Hospital Women’s Imaging Center, visited the firefighters at Station No. 2, where they were presented with the check.

The idea to sell the shirts came from a few firefighters whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. “We were discussing in one of our union meetings about looking for a community cause that we could support,” said firefighter Matthew Schuster, union treasurer. “Several of the guys had a wife or mother who had breast cancer so we felt it was important to do something that brought about an awareness of breast cancer and early detection.”

The Breast Cancer Prevention Fund assists uninsured, low-income women age 40 and older, and women of any age who are at high risk for breast cancer, to receive screening or diagnostic mammography services through a doctor’s order. The fund also provides education for women in early detection practices.

The T-shirts have the fire department emblem on the front, a pink breast cancer ribbon on the sleeve, and a Firefighters for the Cure logo on the back. Remaining T-shirts are available to the public and may be purchased for $15 at LaPorte Fire Station No. 1 at 18th and I streets.

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