The televised scene was a familiar one on Labor Day. Dozens of children afflicted with muscular dystrophy gathered on a Las Vegas stage with entertainer/humanitarian Jerry Lewis, each one broadcasting a wide smile after looking at the board that displayed the number of donations to fight their disease. And Needham firefighters once again played a role in it all.
As they have in many previous years, the Needham Firefighters Union helped raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) during Lewis' 45th annual Labor Day telethon. The 2010 donation was to the tune of $6,700.
Firefighters across the country help pitch in and donate what they can to the telethon, which this year raised a national total of $58 million. Money in Needham is collected mainly through boot drives, with some help found in phone solicitations.
The MDA telethon is not the only charity dear to the hearts of Needham union members, though, as Local 1707 president Lieutenant Dennis Condon pointed out that the number of groups is "too numerous" to list in one article. A few of the beneficiaries include the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizens, the Walker School and various events organized by the Needham Exchange Club.
Condon also related that the Firefighters Union receives letters each week from fellow firefighters in need, a cause they are quick to aid.
"Often times we donate to firefighter families who have tragedies," he said. "Someone may have gotten hurt in a fire or sick and now have financial hardships. We try to help as much as we can."
In addition to the phone solicitations and boot drives, a comedy night is held once a year to raise funds for the Union's various causes. For those wishing to donate in the immediate future, a boot drive will be taking place in Needham on Sept. 23.