OLDS — For the second straight year, the Olds Fire Department is holding a rooftop campout to raise money for muscular dystrophy (MS).
Muscular dystrophy is a collection of rare inherited conditions that cause muscles to weaken and break down over time. As a result, victims can lose the ability to walk and may eventually need a wheelchair to get around.
There’s no known cure for the disease, but some treatments can help patients cope with it to some degree.
This year’s event is slated to run from 12 noon May 13 to 12 noon May 15 and the plan is to have actual firefighters camp out on the fire hall roof.
Last year, the campaign ran for a month. Firefighters were supposed to camp out on the roof then. However, instead, a mannikin, Rescue Randy, was placed up there when COVID restrictions came in again.
Even Rescue Randy didn’t last up there very long. He was taken down midway through the month when a thunderstorm rolled through.
This year’s fundraising target is $10,000, the same as last year’s goal. Last year, about $2,000 was raised shortly after the month ended.
Nikolaus Nieder, a firefighter with Olds Fire Department and one of the main organizers for the campaign, is hopeful they’ll reach their goal.
Nieder said the plan is for six, and possibly eight firefighters to camp out on the roof.
To bring extra visibility to the event and encourage in-person donations, a tent will be set up in front of the fire hall along with a ladder truck.
"For a $40 donation, you get a 2022 rooftop campout T-shirt,” Nieder said. “The firefighters will actually shoot T-shirts down from the roof with a cannon so you can catch it.
“Hopefully it attracts people, so we’ll see how that goes. I think that’ll be pretty cool to see.”
Also, each day from noon until 4 p.m. a food drive will be held.
“They’ll be on the street and have the food out so people can drive by and donate cash,” he said.
Late Friday afternoon and late Saturday morning, REFIT Sundre, a company that encourages cardio fitness in a dance format, will be in attendance to lead fun fitness sessions.
“We’re going to set up a trailer and then she will perform on stage and you basically have to follow her. It’s kind of cool to see and it’s really fun,” Nieder said.
"We’re trying to get a couple of firefighters in full turnout gear to participate. They’re going to dance in full gear, with air bottles and mask and everything.”
Fire chief Justin Andrew says muscular dystrophy has affected Olds Fire Department members personally, as retired chief Leonard Brandson’s wife Margaret was diagnosed with it and passed away several years ago.