By Morgan Bryce

Staff Reporter

Opelika-Auburn residents are going behind bars today at Opelika’s Outback Steakhouse to help raise money for the local branch of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The event, known as the ’Executive Lock-Up’, is a fundraiser for the MDA, which offers rehabilitation services to Lee County residents with muscular dystrophy, and conduct vital research to find a cure for the disease.

“Families, when they find out a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy, they feel like they’ve lost control, and don’t know what the next few years will hold for them. MDA, through the funds we raise from events like this, is able to give control back to them, to give them these experiences like summer camp and going to the care center and hope through research,” said Allison McNiell, MDA’s South Alabama region fundraising coordinator.

This morning, McNiell said members of Opelika’s and Auburn’s police departments were sent out to ‘arrest’ dozens of area business and community leaders for ‘having a big heart’ and put them in a jail cell at Outback.

Relying on the generosity of family, friends and strangers, each participant is tasked with a goal of raising $3,200 to receive bail.

April Ortiz, a Home Depot employee, said she joined the fundraiser because of seeing the daily struggle that one of her co-workers with muscular dystrophy faces.

“… when you see one of your teammates go through the hard part of having to deal with her everyday life and work life, to see that gives you a new perspective. So, that’s why I think it’s important to donate and be a part of something like this,” Ortiz said.

Beauregard High School Principal Richard Brown said he was nominated to be a ‘jailbird’ for the event, and that with the help of his students, has raised nearly $1,100 for the cause.

“It’s all about the kids. This money goes to a good cause, one I’ve been following for years. Hopefully, this will help them to find a way get them better,” Brown said.

As of 10:30 a.m., McNiell said nearly $40,000 had been raised from the event, but have a goal of $65,000 they hope to reach.

For more information or to donate, visit and click on the donate tab. The site features an advanced search tab to find a specific person participating in the lockup. Outback Steakhouse is located at 2115 Pepperell Parkway. The event ends at 2 p.m.