Firefighters from Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One will be participating in the 26th annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb fundraiser in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Sunday (March 12) in Seattle.
Team members from Gig Harbor will race teams from fire departments around the nation and from around the world in a timed event to climb the 69 stories of the Columbia Tower, said Brad Harris, firefighter and EMT with Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One.
“(We) climb that in full combat gear,” Harris said, referring to the 70 pounds of firefighting equipment. “All the money that we raise, so that we can climb the tower in all our gear, goes toward the research for leukemia and lymphoma patients.”
A fundraiser held Feb. 28 at Fondi’s Pizza in Gig Harbor invited to community to participate in the event, with the restaurant donating 20 percent of guest bills between 5 and 8 p.m. The total amount raised during the fundraiser is still being calculated, Harris said.
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Personally, I look forward to this kind of thing every year, even though it is probably one of the hardest physically demanding thing that I do. It’s for a great cause. The people running the program do such a great job ... For me, the 20 minutes of pain and suffer is totally worth it to support the survivors.
Brad Harris, firefighter and EMT with Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One
Last year saw 1,900 participants from 330 departments, with some participants coming from as far as New York and even New Zealand.
At 788 feet of vertical elevation, the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle stands as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi. It takes 69 floors of stairs and 1,356 steps to reach the observation deck overlooking the city. The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb supports the mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising money through sponsorships, individual and department fundraising, and entry fees, according to the fundraiser’s website.
Now in its 26th year, the event has raised more than $12 million for LLS.
This year’s race begins at 8 a.m., with teams leaving in intervals to race to the top.
“There are some guys nationwide that do it under 11 minutes,” Harris said. “I think about average is about 17 to 23 minutes.”
This is Harris’ 10th year participating in the event since joining the department in January 2005. He added that the key to doing well is maintaining a steady pace to the top, thinking in a marathon mindset rather than a sprint.
“Personally, I look forward to this kind of thing every year, even though it is probably one of the hardest physically demanding thing that I do,” he said. “It’s for a great cause. The people running the program do such a great job ... For me, the 20 minutes of pain and suffer is totally worth it to support the survivors.”