54 Years of Fill the Boot in Sudbury – Capreol
This year marks the 54th Fill the Boot drive for the Sudbury-Capreol Fire Department. We had the chance to speak with Alex Nepitt who has been in charge of this Boot Drive for over three decades. Over such a long time, keeping the Department’s interest and excitement up year after year seems challenging, but Alex attributes this dedication to the fact that lots of the Fire Fighters have kids of their own. “It’s easy because of that. To relate your own child being diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder, and that gives us extra motivation to solve the puzzle that is muscular dystrophy.”
Alex has been a Fire Fighter in Capreol for 32 years, and has held the role of Muscular Dystrophy Canada Fire Fighter Advisor since. But what is the story of the Department getting involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada?
“We joined the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada in September 1960 but due to Hunting Season, Moose Season, and a very early and cold winter with lots of snow, the Capreol Firefighters Club did not do a Boot Drive that year. They collected $10.00 from all 25 firefighters and sent in $250 in January 1961. So that’s how we’ve arrive at our 54th instead of 55th Fill the Boot this year.”
“I added up the money from the Capreol Firefighters minutes of meetings from 1960 until 2013. The minutes are also how I found out about the exact date we started. The total up to September 2013 is $120,046.04.”
Alex and the other Capreol Fire Fighters make a point of making sure that every cent raised during the Fill the Boot goes directly to MDC – all meals and materials are paid for through other ventures. “The Capreol Firefighters Club paid for vinyl banners by hosting an open house and car wash every June,” says Alex. “With the money from these extra fundraisers we have also been able to put a sticker in our local paper thanking the citizens of Capreol after our 52nd Boot Drive. Also, we have had a tradition since the first Fill the Boot where the Club treats the Fire Fighters and their spouses who work on the drive out for supper.”
So how does Alex go about planning for the big day?
“Planning for the drive is easy because I have done it 31 times, so it comes naturally. I put up a schedule in July for the Boot Drive that takes place in September. Working this far ahead gives our guys time to plan other things and still make the Drive. The earlier the better,” Alex remarks. “Our Drive is 12 hours total, and lots of our guys work 6 to 12 hours. In recent years it has become harder to get guys to work, but I think this is simply a sign of our times. In the old days we would get 23 or 24 guys out of the 25 in the Department. I remember a couple of years when we had all 25 guys. Now, last year we had 9 out of a possible 16 which means each guy has to work more hours to cover for the rest of the guys.”
But the hard work of the Fire Fighters and the people of Sudbury – Capreol has defiantly paid off:
“There are people who hunt us down just to put money in the Boot every year. Some people I know have donated over 40 years and counting. People have told us they remember going with their parents to put money in the Boot when they were kids.”
Alex and his fellow volunteers will be out in Sudbury-Capreol collecting for their 54th Fill the Boot September 5th and 6th.
Thank you to the Fire Fighters and citizens of Sudbury-Capreol for helping make muscles move for 54 years!