BOISE, Idaho — Approximately every three minutes, one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Which is why on Sunday, firefighters from across the country and the Gem State, will gear up and descend on Seattle to ascend in the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Firefighter Stair Climb.
Their mission is to end blood cancer one step at a time.
“It's the largest on-air firefighter competition in the world,” Boise Fire operations captain Richard Brown said. “We've raised a little over $24 million in 32 years.”
He along with 2,000 other firefighters will gear up and climb 69 flights of stairs at the Columbia Center in Seattle, the tallest building west of the Mississippi! Sixty-nine flights of stairs equate to about 1,356 steps.
“It is terrible,” Brown said. “It feels awful. I think it gives us 20 minutes of feeling extremely uncomfortable, which in my eye’s pales in comparison to any kind of blood cancer treatment that we would go through.”
This is Brown's 12th year participating in the firefighter stair climb.
“My father-in-law is a blood cancer survivor,” Brown said. “My first year I climbed for my father-in-law, and I was climbing for a buddy named Jason Werst. Jason lost his battle the second year that I was preparing and that really left this sort of indelible mark for me, it's like a light switch moment, if you will, where I was like, climbing the stairs is not really the most important thing. the most important thing is to help families and friends survive this stuff. and raising money is the way to do that.”
They're not the only ones raising money, firefighters from across the Gem State will also be in Seattle. Some of those include: firefighters from Meridian, Kuna, Nampa, Eagle, Burley, Coeur d'Alene, and Lewiston.
“Our Boise firefighters and all the firefighters in this climb, care about our families and our friends,” Brown said. “Two of our firefighters that have battled blood cancers to two brothers that have been through this thing and I don't know what it feels like to go through it, I know what it feels like to go through it as a family member and a friend.”
With each step, firefighters are climbing toward ending blood cancer.
“It's an amazing thing to be part of an organization that does so much for so many other people,” Brown said. If you’d like to donate to this year’s stair climb, click here.
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