Some Pocatello firefighters are heading to Seattle in a few months to battle – not fire, but leukemia and lymphoma cancer.
Saturday, they got their start by climbing stairs.
Someone is diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma every 4 minutes. These deep breaths and sore muscles mean that someone is helping to fund research for their cancer.
“A lot of people have stopped by and donated that have said the leukemia and lymphoma society has helped them out a lot,” said Travis Dubois, a paramedic for the Pocatello Fire Department.
This climb is just practice for the main event — happening in Seattle this March.
Five Pocatello firefighters will be going, but will make up a small number of the participants.
“So you spend the day kind of waiting among all this commotion of 1,500 firefighters all packed into a couple floors of this Columbia bank building in Seattle,” said David Scott, a Pocatello paramedic who participate last year. Hedescribed theintensityandexcitementthat goes along with racing up the 69-story building.
“They tell you to go, and I swiped my arm across the start pad, and I took off running up into the stairwell. I made it about four floors before I figured out I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole way to the top.”
Running to the top would mean climbing 1,311 steps. The Columbia Center tower is the second tallest building on the West Coast.
“There’s 250 fire departments from around the world that come, and 1,500 firefighters,” said Dubois, “And they’re racing, but they’re there to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”
This is the largest fundraising event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the U.S. Last year the event raised more than $1 million.
It’s also the largeststair-climbingcompetition in the world. The top climber made the 69-story climb in about 10 and a half minutes last year, and the top climber from Pocatello, David Scott, made it in about 16 minutes.
Although this started as a simple competition between Portland, Ore., firefighters and Seattle firefighters, it has mushroomed into this fundraising event.
And though there are numerous aspects to this event that make it large, (the city, being the largest fundraiser, etc.) the hearts of these firefighters, and their communities, are larger by far .
“It’s really a community event,” said Dubois.
Pocatello’s firefighters will continue to help save lives, one step at a time.