You're going behind bars for good!"
What if you heard those words upon arrival into work one day? It happened to Pacific Publishing Co.'s own Mark Manion.
A classifieds representative, Manion was anonymously nominated to be "locked-up" for an hour in a pseudo jail on Thursday, April 5, in Fremont's Ballroom as part of a national fund-raising effort for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
The Great Lock-Up is one of MDA's largest national fund-raising events, which helps adults and children with neuromuscular diseases. Local business and community leaders agree to be "arrested" for having a "big heart".
All the proceeds collected from this particular event as "bail" go toward the MDA in King County. With every $650 raised, one child can go to a special weeklong summer camp in North Bend. With a goal of $40,000, the Fremont/Ballard community was halfway there with a total of $26,000 raised shortly after the lock-up started at 1 p.m.
HEADING OFF TO JAIL
Manion, sentenced by a secret sponsor only days before the event, needed to raise $1,950 bail. The MDA sets the bail amount, then provides participants with packets of information on how to go about fund-raising using the "get-me-outta-jail" approach.
MDA gave each participant a personal webpage for fund-raising on-line before the actual arrest. Manion was in the lead with the most donations accumulated on-line in two days.
He admitted that he had no hesitation in contacting people asking them for money. He said that it comes with the territory of being in sales, being upfront and forward. He found that people were willing to participate even with his strong-armed tactics.
The lock-up came as a complete surprise to Manion. He had never heard of the event until he got the call.
"I knew that putting some of my time in doesn't affect me, in terms of...you know, it's just time. It can only go toward to a good cause," he said.
The "paddy wagon" arrived at Pacific Publishing's office to collect Manion. Volunteer Bellevue firefighter Tony Hightower, acting as the arresting officer, hauled a smiling and very willing Manion away to his awaiting jail cell in Fremont.
The Ballroom, 456 N. 36th St., donated its space and provided food for the day's event.
MDA volunteers such as Amber Morse, who never misses an MDA event, greeted jailbirds as they arrived to serve their sentences. Morse, who has muscular dystrophy, was dressed in a lilac gown to go with the masquerade theme of the afternoon.
Participants were encouraged to dress up if they chose to. Seattle City Light's Jean Johnson, who was honoring the memory of a friend who died from muscular dystrophy, wore a Minnie Mouse costume complete with a matching mouse purse.
Another "giving prisoner" wore the Hollywood version of a jailbird by wearing a black-and-white-striped outfit.
MDA spends more than 76 percent of its contributor dollars on community services, public health education and worldwide research on 42 neuromuscular diseases, so being a prisoner for an hour was an hour well spent, according to the jailbirds.
They were taken out of their workplace and into a festive atmosphere and treated to pizza and coffee while dialing potential donors on cell phones donated by Nextel and Clearwire.
Six lock-up events take place in King County each year. The next Seattle event will take place at the Seattle Center in mid-June and another at Qwest Field in early August.
Anyone can nominate someone they think is guilty of a giving heart. For information contact MDA at 283-2183, or visit the website at www. mda.org.