Two Suffolk firefighters begin 130-mile walk to raise awareness for muscular diseases

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Two members of the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Department are walking 130 miles to raise awareness for muscular dystrophy and other muscle debilitating diseases.

Fire Medic Joe Jarman and Lt. Travis Saunders started their journey at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Sunday.

“We’re attempting a walk to Richmond from the Oceanfront to raise awareness and hopefully a bunch of money for muscular dystrophy,” said Jarman. 

For 65 years, the International Association of Firefighters has raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association with their Fill the Boot campaign.

Jarman and Saunders are basically taking “Fill the Boot” on the road for “March for MDA”.

Saunders said, “I’m hoping for a lot of support throughout our march. Hopefully anyone who sees us gives us a wave or a honk and keeps our spirits up as we go.”

“We’re going to do it over six days, 130 miles total. We”ll stay at fire stations along the way,” Jarman tells 10 On Your Side.

Members of the community, like local college student Emily Wheeler, were at the Oceanfront Sunday morning to support the two men and the cause.

“I’ve been diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, which is a neromuscular disease. It effects my peripheral nerves in my knees down and my arms down,” said Wheeler. She says there are many reasons to support the MDA and it has changed her life.

“When I was first diagnosed, it was very hard for my family and through the help of MDA I got back up on my feet and was able to flourish as a person,” Wheeler said.

Jarman says the two will finish their walk in Richmond. They’re encouraging others to meet up with them at the end, as they make their way to the capitol. 

“As a group, we’re going to pick up as many people as we can at the Main Street Train Station in Richmond. Anyone who’s affected by muscular dystrophy can do the final half mile, were calling it the MDA Mile, and arrive at the capitol together,” said Jarman.

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