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Firefighters climbing for a cure
By Lisa Britton
For the Baker City Herald
Local firefighters will use their lungs and legs to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society during the 23rd-annual Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle on March 9.
Travis Fields, Jason Jacobs, Ben Decker, Mike Downing, Ryan Downing, Derral Thomas and William Schlaich will race up the Columbia Center — 69 flights, 1,311 steps and 788 feet elevation gain — in full firefighter gear, including a breathing apparatus.
“It’s hard — we have an additional 50 pounds of gear,” said Fields, who participated in the event last year.
There will be 1,800 firefighters racing to the top this year — they take off in groups of about 20, Fields said.
The skyscraper’s top observation deck is the finish line, then they get to ride the elevator back down.
Last year, 1,500 firefighters from 282 different departments participated and raised $1.44 million for blood cancer research and patient services.
The minimum goal to raise is $300 per person. As a team, the Baker City firefighters are aiming to raise $10,000.
The easiest way to donate is online at www.firefighterstairclimb.org. Click on the “donate” button on the top right, then search for Baker City Fire Department.
Donations can also be delivered to the fire department at 1616 Second St.
This event is so popular that firefighters have to act quickly to register.
“We sold out in just under 14 minutes,” said Audra Daniels, senior campaign manager for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
However, anyone who raises $1,000 is guaranteed an entry for the next year — Daniels said 600 participants qualified this year.
While many firefighters participate in honor of someone fighting a blood cancer, Daniels says the motivation is sometimes a bit closer to home because firefighters are at a higher risk of cancer due to carcinogens they are exposed to while fighting fires.
“It makes it a little more personal,” she said.
She praises the firefighters who come every year to tackle the Stairclimb.
“They do an amazing job,” she said. “When you meet people who risk their lives to save others, it gives you a clue to their personality.”
This event differs a bit from another Society fundraiser called the Big Climb, which brings in about 10,000 participants to race up the Columbia Center.
At the Big Climb, she said, participants come and complete their race, then generally leave.
Not so with the firefighters.
“They come as early as we’ll let them in the building and stay until everyone’s done,” Daniels said.
This fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society takes place March 9 at the Columbia Center in Seattle.
Participants from Baker City are Travis Fields, Jason Jacobs, Ben Decker, Mike Downing, Ryan Downing, Derral Thomas and William Schlaich.
As a team, their goal is to raise $10,000.
To donate, go online to www.firefighterstairclimb.org. Click on the “donate” button on the top right, then search for Baker City Fire Department.
Donations can also be taken to the fire department at 1616 Second St.