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Innisfail firefighters climb for cancer hope

Three local firefighters participate virtually in annual Calgary event
MVP Innisfail fire department stair climb
Gary Leith, fire chief of the Innisfail Fire Department, climbs the stairs at Heritage Ranch last month to support the annual Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, a fundraiser for Wellspring Calgary. Submitted photo

INNISFAIL – For the fourth year in a row three of the town’s finest made the big 1,204-stair climb to raise money and awareness for cancer patients and their families.

Last month, Innisfail fire chief Gary Leith, along with firefighters Cara Cochrane and Eric Peppinck, suited up in full gear to take part in the annual Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge in support of Wellspring Calgary, a charity that offers programs and services for people living with cancer – those diagnosed, caregivers and kids.

Usually, the challenge, which attracts hundreds of firefighters from across Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark, is to climb the 1,204 steps to the top of the 774-foot Bow building in Calgary.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still in force, it was not possible to have the typical setting and the annual event was done virtually from May 2 to 15 with participating firefighters using the honour system to validate their climbs.

“I did my 1,204 stairs in full gear with breathing apparatus at Heritage Ranch (Red Deer), and two of our members went to Banff and did it at the Tunnel Mountain trail which was approved by Wellspring,” said Leith.

Best of all, the local trio raised $1,430 for Wellspring Calgary.

Since the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge began in 2015, firefighters have raised a total of $1.67 million, with more than 2,000 firefighters participating in the climb.

This year’s challenge was the first one opened up to non-firefighters.


Johnnie Bachusky

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