Usually, seeing jail bars in front of your face doesn’t inspire a lot of hope or positive thoughts.
That wasn’t the case Thursday when “jailbirds” found themselves imprisoned for a good cause — raising cash in the Lorain County Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Lock Up program.
These smooth criminals stole our hearts by collecting pledges for “bail” in a charity event staged at the Amherst Sandstone Village on Milan Avenue.
“People who come to the jail get to hear a lot about what we do and the services we offer,” said MDA of Northeast Ohio administrative assistant Amanda Betker. “They get their mugshot taken and then they can sit, eat, and hang out for a while. People are fundraising through cash donations, check donations, online, and a combination of all three.”
Betker said every $2,400 raised will sent three kids to the organization’s summer camp program. As of 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, the event had raised $16,536 of its $25,000 goal.
“No one is required to raise any certain amount,” she said. “Any amount at all helps. People raise from $100 to way over $2,400.”
Normally on the other side of the bars, Amherst police Lt. Mark Cawthon found himself in the Clink and had raised $1,733 in pledges.
“Doing it this way makes it fun for us while also raising awareness,” he said. “For someone in my position as a police officer, having so many contacts who are willing to donate really gets the word out. This is my first year participating and I’m honored to be here.”
Cawthon and Christine Miller, principal of Longfellow Elementary School in Lorain, were two of many to have their mugshots taken behind bars.
“I got a phone call in August that said they wanted to arrest me,” she said. “I told them sure. It’s important to get this message out there to people.”
Stephanie Royster, a 26-year-old Strongsville woman living with muscular dystrophy, spoke of the MDA’s positive impact on her life.
“This is just awesome,” she said. “MDA has been a huge part of my life for 26 years. They’ve helped with my diagnosis, treatment, and with attending camp for 12 years. The way they get the community to come out like this and help is amazing.”
The MDA raises funds to fight 92 neuromuscular diseases including ALS, dermatomyositis, and a number of thyroid conditions.
To support the cause, visit www.mda.org.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times Christine Miller, principal of Longfellow Elementary School in Lorain, was told this summer she would be “arrested.”
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