By Michelle Seeber
People by the scores will be going to jail today — not because they committed crimes, but because they want to raise money for others who suffer from muscular dystrophy.
The event, hosted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by the Cattle Baron Restaurant, will involve businessmen and others in Portales being “arrested” and put in jail at the restaurant. They will be served finger sandwiches and snacks and offered a cell phone for calling friends and relatives to bail them out of jail.
Donations paid to get them out of jail will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association based in Amarillo, Texas.
Theresa Isham, program coordinator for the MDA, said, “This is an annual event in Portales with the community-based support of individuals and famiies who have muscular distrophy. We’re not a part of the United Way. We’re a totally grassroots organization.
“About 76 cents out of every dollar go to people with MD who need wheelchairs and other items and to MDA camps for children,” she said. “A very low percentage (of the dollars raised) goes back into fundraising.”
Isham said 230 clients have MD in New Mexico and the Panhandle area along with a few in Portales.
Isham said the dollars raised go right back to help the people in the community where the fundraiser was held.
“The average wheelchair costs between $5,000 and $10,000, and we support our clients whether they have insurance or not,” she said. “Many times, when people are children, if the parents don’t have health incurance there’s so much red tape to get help for them through Medicare. A doctor who suspects a child may have MD can be diagnosed for free at a hospital in Amarillo (because of the MDA).”
Isham said that because of fundraisers, a young man living in the Panhandle who had muscular dystrophy received a $30,000 wheelchair last year.
The money also pays for five-day camps, where children are given their medicine, bathed and fed, and exposed to horse riding or many other activities beyond their normal routine at home.
“It costs $600 to send a kid to camp,” Isham said. “That’s the goal of the lockup in Portales — to raise money for camp. It’s a respite for the parents, and the kids are with children their own age who experience the same types of things. The kids form friendships and become pen pals with others in the camp.”
Isham said the Cattle Baron Restaurant “treats our jail birds really well. It’s a good atmosphere for businesses people to take a break during their busy day. Sometimes good business deals are made at this community event.
“We cover 35 counties and we hold this event in each one,” she said.
Theresa Almond, of the Cattle Baron’s corporate headquarters, said that Cattle Baron and some of the corporation’s other restaurant chains do the lockup to help give back to their respective cities.
“When we do a lockup, it is the community helping the community,” Almond said. “When we do a lockup in a community like Portales or Hobbs, we know the money is going to stay in the county.
“We like to help out our fellow friends and neighbors,” Almond added. “We also learned we raise more money doing the lockups. Companywide last year, we raised $80,000 through lockups.”