Enthusiasm for a good cause can catch on like wildfire. This is how Meadow Lake’s Keenan Gill recruited three fellow firefighters to participate in Calgary’s Firefighter Staircase Challenge coming up in April.
While the fundraiser and awareness campaign is still a few weeks away, the team’s March 29 fundraising deadline is approaching. The event is organized in support of Calgary-based non-profit Wellspring, which supports firefighters and civilians living with cancer. Participating firefighters are required to scale 55 flights of stairs in the city’s iconic Bow Building in full gear, with self-contained breathing apparatuses strapped to their backs.
Gill took part in the event in 2017, raising nearly $1,500 for the cause, and knew he wanted to do it again. When he was talking about it earlier this year during fire practice, Andrew Clements, Lyndon Shryko and Macylin Relitz decided to join in.
“We did a team this year,” Gill said. “We all registered individually, but then put ourselves on the Meadow Lake Fire Department team. We get to represent [the city] and get to meet other firefighters from across the country.”
He said he really enjoyed the event last year, and now knows what to expect and how to help his fellow colleagues prepare for the event.
“It’s actually pretty amazing as you’re walking up,” Gill said. “It’s 770-foot elevation when you get to the top it’s all glass and you can see for miles. It’s a long hard fight to get up those stairs; you feel the burn, fatigue and have to push yourself really hard.”
Relitz said when she started to train, she did it pretty easily with just gym clothes but then recently tried again in full uniform. She said it was a challenge, but knows that it’s also symbolic and meaningful. She’s lost people to cancer and thinks it’s a great way to support those suffering from the disease.
“There’s always someone going through a lot more pain than you are, especially fighting cancer,” she said. “I’m going to keep practicing.”
Each firefighter has a fundraising goal of $500, and the group has been busy collecting pledges from friends, family and the community.
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