Decades of dedication to MDA

Fishtown native prepares for 48th year of annual outdoor fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Association amid adversity

Summer staple: Walt Pomroy holds up a photograph of himself during the early years of his annual fundraiser. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

Walt Pomroy has set up a stand across the street from his house every summer selling hot dogs and soda for 48 years and, nothing has ever stopped him.

The Fishtown native donates every dollar he makes to the Muscular Dystrophy Association from his temporary snack stand at the intersection of Belgrade and Oxford streets.

Soon-to-be 72, Pomroy sets up each day at 7 a.m., with hot dogs ready to be served fresh from the grill by 9 a.m. and available until 7 p.m.

The operation runs from the beginning of August until Labor Day in conjunction with the now defunct Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

Like other obstacles, Pomroy did not let the cancelation of the event deter him from collecting and donating money toward muscular dystrophy.

Last year, Pomroy didn’t make it to Labor Day.

On Sept. 1, 2017, sometime between 2 and 3 a.m., Pomroy was attacked while walking near Moyer Street and Columbia Avenue.

“Last year when I was mugged, I almost died,” he said.

After being hit with a pipe twice in the head, Pomroy hit the ground so hard “I hard my head hit the asphalt” and fractured a bone behind his neck and required stitches above his eye.

After being released from the hospital, he was determined to finish his fundraiser, but his niece had taken over while he was in the hospital and finished the fundraiser for him.

“A lot of people this year asked me if I would do it again this summer after what happened,” Pomroy said. “And, I said “Yeah, I’m not going to let anything stop me.’ ”

Not the mugging and not a surgery.

Pomroy was wearing a boot on his right foot when he sat down to talk about his fundraiser and show off some of the associated items he’s saved over the years.

“I just got operated on. I had a cyst the size of a house on my foot,” he said. “But, I’m still gonna go on and do [the fundraiser].”

Among his memorabilia are letters of appreciation from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, one dating back to 1993, photos of himself presenting the donations, a black Jerry Lewis wrist watch from the MDA, and a plastic MDA container to collect the money from selling hot dogs and soda.

Pomroy doesn’t have a total of how much he’s raised over nearly five decades, but last year, he raised $2,886. All supplies are donated: Anne’s Deli provides the hot dogs and Fishtown Market provides the soda.

What started with collecting coins in a plastic milk bottle for MDA at the suggestion of a neighbor has turned into a summer signature event in Fishtown.

For Pomroy, giving back gives him a way to pass the time.

“I have nothing else to do,” he said. “And, I just love to do it. I want to keep it up for 50 years.”

Walter Pomroy will host his fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for the 48th year from Aug. 10 to Sept. 4, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day at Belgrade and Oxford streets. Hots dogs and sodas will be available for purchase for $1 each.