Thank You To Fire Fighters From Our 20th Year

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A Commentary of Appreciation to the Fire Fighters of Canada on their Consistent Help for Victims of Muscular Dystrophy

On this occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of The Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada, the Board of Directors of that association wish to extend their sincere and warm appreciation to the men of the more than 500 fire fighting departments across Canada who have unstintingly aided in the fight against this dreadful disease.

An estimated 18,000 men actively solicit funds to be spend on research to find a control or a cure for muscular dystrophy, and the be spent on patient services making like easier for the victims of the disease. They do so voluntarily because of their compassion for handicapped children.

“Without the support of the fine men of Canadian fire fighting organizations, our work could not proceed,” says Dudley N. Mendels, president of MDAC. “In the fiscal year ending March 31, 1974, fire fighters raised $831,531. This represents, by far, the largest single source of income for our association.”

During the fiscal year ending next March 31, 1975, The Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada is hopeful of raising in excess of a million and a half dollars. This sum will be required to meet the research and patient care programs believed necessary. Fire fighter associations across Canada have been made aware of this need and are doing all in their power to help provide the funds. Without that support, it is fully realistic to state that the programs could never come to be.

The kinds of activities engaged in by the fire fighters to raise money are well known to many. However, it is sometimes helpful to others to restate them. These activities include house to house canvassing, participation in community parades with decorated floats, public speaking before church and community associations, toll plazas, raffles, lotteries, interviews with local news media, as well as canvassing of local businesses and industries.

What happens to this money? In Junes of this year, more than $800,000 was committed to support medical research. A total of 42 research projects at 16 universities and hospitals across Canada are now receiving this money. It is the highest amount of money which the association has ever been able to commit.

These new research projects involve dedicated men and women working at the Universities of Alberta, British Columbia, California, Manitoba, Montreal, Ottawa, Saskatchewan, Western Ontario and Wisconsin, as well as Brock, Laval, Memorial of Newfoundland, McGill, McMaster and York Universities.

The disease these dedicated people are fighting is described by doctors as a neurological disorder. More than 20 identifiable types of neurological disorders have been attacked. Muscular dystrophy afflicts its victims in one of three major ways.

Young adults may suffer the facio-scapular variety which causes muscle wasting in the neck and shoulders. Teenage victims usually suffer the limb-girdle variety which causes loss of muscle power in the hips and legs and results in loss of ability to walk.

The third and most prevalent variety of muscular dystrophy is called pseudohypertrophic dystrophy or Duchenne dystrophy. Primarily, young boys are stricken with the disorder which is a gradual wasting of all the muscles of the body. More than half of the 16,000 estimated cases in Canada are of the Duchenne variety. Life expectancy is about 20 years.

Doctors are aware that some forms of the disease are the result of a genetic defect, transmitted to the victim at the time of conception by the mother.

At present, blood testing of a woman can determine if she is a carrier of the defective gene. Unfortunately, this testing is mot part of regular medical procedure, even if she is pregnant. Usually such testing is preformed only in the case where muscular dystrophy is already in the family.

To further complicate the research work, new cases of muscular dystrophy – those where no family history of the disorder exists – occur in about a third of all cases.

Fire Fighters across Canada who are helping the Muscular Dystrophy Association know full well the terrible tragedy that is the result of the discovery that someone has the disease. In many cases, dystrophic children are abandoned to some sort of institution. In other cases, one parent alone, tries to play the role of both mother and father, because some adults cannot accept the living fact of a dystrophic child. They abandon spouse and child. Some parents become alcoholics, and cases of mental breakdown are not uncommon.

In many cases, the dystrophic child develops a personality problem, because of bad parental attitudes and actions.

Education of the dystrophic child too, is an ongoing and time demanding task, both for parents and for educational authorities. The job of transporting dystrophic victims, often performed by volunteer fire fighters in many communities, is a physically demanding activity demanding the patience of Job and the strength of Hercules.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada can never have enough funds to carry on its fine work. Never, in the sense that until a cure or a control is found, the association will do all in its power to raise more and more money for the dedicated medical research people we need to desperately to turn their attention to this affliction.

This is why, MDAC is so grateful to the men of the fire fighting associations across Canada who have given of themselves so unselfishly in the past 20 years. This is why too, we urge you to give your most vocal and real support to the men who work with you in pursuit of human happiness.

 

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