Firefighters step up for charity

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Fighting cancer is an uphill battle – and a group of Cochrane firefighters is hoping to help ease the struggle even a little bit by carrying some of the weight themselves.

On May 7, firefighter Chris Chyka and three colleagues will dress in full duty gear and climb 54 flights of stairs at the BOW Building – the ninth-tallest structure in Canada – as a fundraiser for Wellspring Calgary. The organization provides support and resources for people living with cancer and their families.

The event is co-hosted by the Calgary Firefighters Benevolent Society, which helps those in the fire service cope with health-related issues.

The foursome has been practising in the firehall’s four-storey stairwell for more than a month to prepare for the 1,204 steps and 775 vertical feet they’ll attempt to complete, wearing 50 pounds of equipment, in about 15 minutes.

Even though this is the third year the firefighters have tackled the tower, team member Lt. Derek Orr said a strict training regimen is essential in order to make it without overheating, passing out, or getting sick.

“It’s brutal,” said Orr. “That’s why we call it the house of pain.”

Fundraising is the other essential component of the event – in the last two years, the firefighters have raised more than $3,000 for Wellspring.

Chyka said three Cochrane service members have been personally touched by cancer, and knowing the struggles they’ve endured gives the climbers even more drive to train, raise money and succeed.

“It’s nothing compared to what those people are going through on a daily basis,” said Chyka, “but if we can raise some money and raise some awareness, then we’re all for it.”

To donate to the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, go to http://give.wellspringcalgary.ca and search for Cochrane Fire Team.

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