McAllen firefighter spends week at MDA summer camp

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Jerry Gomez donates his vacation time to spend a week volunteering at the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp.

Sloshing through mud and water at the Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, Texas, McAllen fire Fighter Jerry Gomez wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else. He is braving the rain and wind to spend a week as a Unit Leader and volunteer counselor at the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp.

Gomez has the opportunity to escort his young friend and area resident, 12-year-old Homer De la Garza, through the week-long camp experience. Not only do the two live in the same cabin at camp, but they are also able to participate in activities such as swimming and sports. In addition to performing as Homer’s individual escort, Gomez provides guidance to the other young men in his cabin. As their fearless leader, he is able to be a part of the lives of other children affected by muscular dystrophy.

“I am always so amazed at how wonderful it is to be around these kids,” Gomez said. “I don’t come here just for the activities we are able to do together, like dance class or fishing. I come to camp to experience each new step in life these children are taking while being a part of MDA Summer Camp.”

Volunteering his time to children affected by muscular dystrophy is nothing new to Gomez. At age 15, he and a group of his teammates on the high school football team participated in a fundraiser to help support MDA. It was so successful that after the fundraiser was over the boys decided to form a club devoted to raising money to help with MDA-funded research and, of course, to send children to the annual summer camp. During the following years, the teenage boys traveled from the Rio Grande Valley all the way to Dallas and back again holding fundraisers for MDA.

Jerry’s contributions continued over the years and through his 16 years as a volunteer, and now as a career Fire fighter, he has donated his time and energy to the MDA “Fill-the-Boot” campaign. Each year he and his fellow co-workers hit the streets to collect donations in their boots to help fund MDA programs.

“I can’t imagine what my life would be like without having the opportunity to interact with these children,” Gomez said. “They are worth every vacation day I lose to spend with them and every lost hour of sleep I lack to care for them. These children are an absolute joy.”

The Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual summer camp is provided cost free to area children affected by one of 43 neuromuscular diseases under the MDA umbrella. Funds raised during the year through a vaiety of fundraising programs, including the Jery Lewis Labor Day Telethon on Action 4 - KGBT, goes toward MDA Summer Camp, clinic visits, support groups at Valley Baptist Medical Center, assistance with the purchase of durable medical equipment and MDA's on-going woldwide research.

The Rio Grande Valley Chapter of MDA services more than 280 families. For infomation on MDA, call (956) 412-8797

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Rebekah Thompson
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