Fairfax County, VA Local 2068, Magic Wheelchair, and MDA join forces to fulfill 10-year-old’s dream 

MDA and Magic Wheelchair team up with Fairfax County Professional Fire Fighters Local 2068 for 10-year-old’s birthday wheelchair costume reveal.

June 12 • 2024

Katherine Jeong, the 10-year-old winner of the 2023 Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Magic Wheelchair sweepstakes, was overjoyed when her dream of becoming Velma from Scooby-Doo was brought to life. 

“When I entered the contest, I never thought we would win. Seeing Katherine’s excitement and the support from all these organizations is truly amazing,” said Julie, Katherine’s mother. “I was deeply moved by the outpouring of support. We are so grateful.” 

MDA and Magic Wheelchair partnered with several organizations, including Fairfax County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics, Local 2068, to give Katherine a birthday she would never forget. 

“I was really surprised when I saw it,” Katherine said. “I get to have my own Mystery Machine!” 

Her wheelchair was transformed into the iconic Mystery Machine, complete with adaptive buttons and a flamingo bobblehead, adding her own personal touch. 

“Our collaboration with MDA has spanned 70 years, and our recent work with Magic Wheelchair has enabled us to do even more amazing things for these kids,” said Roger Lopez, IAFF- MDA National Coordinator. 

I was really surprised when I saw it,” Katherine said. “I get to have my own Mystery Machine!

Katherine jeong, 10-years-old

Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a progressive neuromuscular disease, at just eight months old, Katherine has faced many challenges. She has been a patient at MDA Care Centers in the Washington, D.C., area and was among the first to benefit from a groundbreaking treatment for SMA, thanks to research funding from MDA through the IAFF’s ‘Fill the Boot‘ program. 

“It is amazing to see the partnerships MDA has with Magic Wheelchair, letter carriers, and fire fighters. The smiles on the kids’ and families’ faces make it all worthwhile. My family has been involved for years, and seeing the difference it makes keeps us committed,” said Joel Kobersteen, Local 2068 ‘Fill the Boot’ Coordinator. 

Local 2068 members are the top fundraisers for MDA’s ‘Fill the Boot’ program.  

The initiative has raised over $700 million since 1954, making them the largest organizational partner in MDA history. This funding has contributed to over 20 breakthroughs in FDA-approved treatments for neuromuscular diseases. 

“It’s truly amazing that we’re able to have this event here today and to see the funds that we collect annually at our fundraiser out on the street in our ‘Fill the Boot’ drive, to be able to see those funds be put to good use, and to be able to have that here in our county at one of our facilities, is definitely the icing on the cake,” said Robert Young, Local 2068 president. 

My family has been involved for years, and seeing the difference it makes keeps us committed.

Joel Kobersteen, Local 2068 ‘Fill the Boot’ Coordinator

Supporting MDA’s mission, the IAFF is helping to make dreams come true for children like Katherine. 

“We’re just a piece of the puzzle and every little thing helps,” said Kobersteen. “Every station going out for every hour, every little bit helps regardless of the amount, it matters.” 

“I just want to say, ‘Thank you,’ because it was just such a big thing,” said Katherine.