MDA: Community leaders get locked up to raise money

COLUMBIA CITY — Business and community leaders in Whitley County were “locked up” for an hour jail sentence Tuesday to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The fundraiser was held at Paige’s Crossing in Columbia City from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.Allison Eckert, fundraising coordinator, said the sheriff’s department was helping to pick up people and drop them off at Paige’s Crossing.“They ‘arrest’ them and bring them in, and some people decide to turn themselves in just depending on what their schedules are,” said Eckert.When the jailbirds arrived at the event, they checked in with MDA staffer Lisa Vermecte, who acted as the judge.“The charge is for having a big heart,” said Vermecte.After Vermecte tapped the gavel to the table, declaring the sentence, participants walked over to jail bars set on a table.There, they put on a white and black striped shirt and had their picture taken as they held a sign asking for a bailout.The “bail” was set for $2,400 for each participant, and the money is used to send three children with muscle disease in Northeast Indiana to MDA’s annual summer camp.Eckhart said all the money raised from the event stays local.“That makes them feel better knowing they are helping Whitley County families in their own community,” said Eckhart.“We help them with support group sessions, clinic visits to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, summer camp for kids and an allowance for equipment each year.“It relives a little stress financially for them at a time when they are facing some of those really rough diseases.”One of the may “jailbirds” was Bill Boggs, South Whitley Town Council member.“I have Muscular Dystrophy, and it’s a good cause for raising money, especially for the young kids who really need the help and need the research,” said Boggs.Boggs said he has participated in the lock up before as well as the Muscle Walk, which took place in March.“The MDA, they are very good about helping families as far as if you need anything,” said Boggs. “You can call them up, and they’ll go above and beyond to try to guide you where you need to be guided.”For more information on MDA, visit