Every year the San Antonio Firefighters Fill the Boot for MDA knowing that we are providing help and hope to local MDA families,” said Chris Steele, President of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.
“This year, we are proud to Fill the Boot in honor of our brother Kelly Crush and his fight against ALS.
Kelly Erle Crush, 51, was born in Dallas, Texas on August 29, 1960. He went to be with his savior on Sunday, March 25th, after nearly four years of battling ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
He joined the Wichita Falls Fire Department in May, 1988, was promoted to driver in 2002. He was forced to retire in August 2009 due to his battle with ALS. ALS is a disease of the parts of the nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. Without medical assistance, survival rates average three to five years after diagnosis. Modern technology and some medications are now able to prolong survival and can even help people with ALS to function with almost no muscle function. At the time of his diagnosis, Kelly was a healthy 48-year-old and an avid runner.
During his career as a first responder, Kelly most certainly saw things that would leave one to wonder the goodness of others, but he knew that people are mostly kind and good. He stated that fire fighters all over the country helped him, especially his brothers at the Wichita Falls Fire Department. In fact, we were more than friends or co-workers to Kelly, we were family.
He stated in many ways ALS was a blessing as he would not have met so many wonderful people nor would he have been able to help with such a worthy cause as the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Kelly was courageous in his battle with ALS. He fought it with dignity and kept a positive outlook and a great sense of humor. He believed if you had faith in God that He would always take care of you. Kelly wanted to be remembered as a good guy with a great sense of humor and a genuine, life-driven care for others. He will most definitely be remembered that way.
When asked about his “bucket list”, Kelly stated that he did not get to jump from an airplane but decided that crossing over from this life to the next would be a greater experience. He said he was ready to meet his maker and reunite with his mother and father.
Kelly wanted to thank his fellow fire fighters across the country for their love and unwavering support throughout his career with the fire department, particularly his battle for the past four years.
When Kelly was asked why he's dedicated the rest of his life to this effort, he said, 'Why not? You can either ball up and cry, or you can try to help somebody.' He's not a quitter, he's a fighter. And he fought up till the very last."
Kelly told me, "This disease gets one day from me. I get every day until that last day."
Kelly said he feels he can make a difference because when he talks to people, they can put a face to ALS and other neuromuscular diseases that the MDA works with.
"I know exactly where the money goes," he said. "It goes to patients like me, it goes to research. Seeing me lets them know it's more than a buck in a boot. It gives firemen incentive to keep going.
Kelly says: "I don't want anyone else to go through this. "I'm the last person I ever thought would have to use the MDA."
“Kelly Erle Crush was a true warrior for the MDA. “I am proud to say that I knew him well.