Firefighters climb tallest tower for charity

Three local firefighters participated in the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, racing their way to the top of on of Western Canada’s tallest building sin Calgary.

The challenge isn’t all about the race. It is about camaraderie, raising funds in support of Wellspring Calgary, beating personal goals, and having a good time.

This year, fire Chief Dave Balding ran up the stairs of Calgary’s BOW tower for the third time. Steve Morrison ran for his second time, and Mike Pecora took on the challenge for the first time.

The day began on April 29 with opening ceremonies at 8:15 a.m. Firefighters began the ascent in heats of 30 firefighters, with a new challenger taking their first steps every 20 seconds.

More than 500 firefighters from all over Alberta, B.C., two from Texas, and one from Denmark participated in the annual challenge.

“The camaraderie during the climb between the firefighters in the stairwell was amazing,” explained Balding. “Lots of high fives, fist pounding, and words of encouragement as we passed each other.”

Firefighters ran up the stairs for hours, and while Balding was waiting his turn to run, he said the time in the morning provided great networking. On average, it took firefighters around 27 minutes to run up 1204 steps, up 55 storeys.

“It was awesome. I achieved my goal,” said Pecora, who regularly participates in challenges like these. “I wanted to go under 15, and I just ended up hitting just over 17. I was pretty happy with that. I didn’t know what I was getting into going into it, I just like a good challenge.”

After crossing the finish line, the firefighters were able to rehydrate and socialize while looking out across Calgary from windows two storeys high, Balding added.

“The stairclimb was a great success,” he said.

The fundraiser helps to support other firefighters who are battling cancer. Wellspring Calgary provides programs, resources, and support to people living with cancer and their caregivers. Overall, the challenge raised $341,222 for the charity.

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