Park City firefighters to climb for a cause in Seattle
When Matt Provost, a firefighter with the Park City Fire District, agreed to participate in the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle three years ago, he wanted to honor his grandma who had passed away from liver cancer.
The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb is an annual on-air stairclimb competition and fundraising event that directly supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While Provost’s grandma didn’t have leukemia or lymphoma, he knew so many people who have either battled cancer or lost a loved one to it he felt inclined to help raise money to better understand the diseases.
“These days you can’t talk to anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer,” he said. “I think the first year I did it, my motivation was for my grandma. But, you meet so many cool people throughout the weekend, including firefighters who have had cancer and kids who have had leukemia, it really hits home.”
Provost is one of 18 firefighters with the Park City Fire District who will be traveling to Washington in March to climb 69 flights of stairs to reach the observation deck of the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle. Provost and the other team members have already collected $4,085 for the event.
The money that benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is raised through entry fees, sponsorships and individual and department fundraising. Last year, participants brought in $2.4 million for blood cancer research and patient services. The goal for 2018 is $2.65 million.
More than 2,000 firefighters from more than 330 different departments and nine countries were part of the event last year.
“It kind of helps you take a step back and take a look at the big picture,” Provost said. “It keeps that in focus as far as what some people are going through in their life. It’s a huge thing to be a part of, and it’s just an honor to be able to go and support such a great event.”
Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt said the event is inspiring for not only himself, but for his crew. Survivors of the diseases join the participants in the foyer of the Columbia Center before the climb begins.
Hewitt has made the climb five times and said “it’s brutal.”
Participants wear full turnouts — about 50 pounds worth of gear — and use breathing apparatuses. At each flight of stairs they pass, firefighters are greeted by pictures of people who have died from leukemia and lymphoma.
Hewitt mentioned he had a personal connection to the diseases. He said his former paramedic partner had contracted leukemia.
“The people that have gone to the event have come back and said that was an amazing experience and it is,” he said. “In the beginning, the guys thought it was going to be horribly challenging and it was, but they come back and say they are so glad they did it.”
Captain Wes Hutchinson’s motivation for joining the climb was similar to Hewitt and Provost’s. He said he has had a few family members that were diagnosed with cancer, and he felt personally affected by it.
Hutchinson approached Hewitt about the event five years ago and thought it would be a unique opportunity to “raise money and get the guys together.”
“It’s really emotional to be there with some of the survivors and people who are currently battling leukemia and lymphoma,” Hutchinson said. “Seeing pictures of people who have passed away, it’s emotional. But, I look forward to being able to support the event and interact with each other outside of work.”
To donate to Park City Fire District’s team of climbers, go to http://www.llswa.org/site/TR/Events/FirefighterStairclimb?team_id=67235&pg=team&fr_id=1560. For more information about the event, visit http://www.llswa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bc_home.
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