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The climb to the top

CKFR firefighters Brock Shaffer (left) and Greg Snyder pose for a photo before climbing to the top of Columbia Center in Seattle at a past Scott Firefighter Stairclimb. - Courtesy photo
CKFR firefighters Brock Shaffer (left) and Greg Snyder pose for a photo before climbing to the top of Columbia Center in Seattle at a past Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

By RACHEL BRANT

Staff writer

Thousands of stairs and 69 stories can’t keep a group of Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue (CKFR) firefighters down.

CKFR firefighters Trevor Stanley, Steve Whitish, Greg Snyder, Brock Shaffer, Cary Cronin and team captain Tony Giove will climb 1,311 stairs in Seattle’s tallest building, the Columbia Center, Sunday, March 2, all for a good cause.

The 17th annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb is the world’s largest firefighter stairclimb and raises money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). More than 1,000 firefighters throughout Washington and Oregon along with New York, Florida, Colorado, South Carolina, Nevada, California, Canada and as far away as New Zealand raised more than $365,000 for LLS at last year’s event. Since 1992, firefighters competing in the annual stairclimb have donated more than $1.6 million to LLS.

“We try to do a lot of stuff for charity groups and this is another way to give back,” Whitish said.

This is the first stairclimb Whitish has participated in and said his fellow firefighters had something to do with him joining the CKFR Scott Firefighter Stairclimb team.

“A little bit of peer pressure actually,” Whitish said. “Some of the guys have been doing it for years.”

One of the veteran stairclimbers is Shaffer, who will be participating in his seventh Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.

“It’s a fun event and it’s something that’s for a good cause,” Shaffer said.

Stairclimb participants solicit money from family and friends to donate to LLS. While Whitish and Shaffer were uncertain as to what this year’s team total was so far, the CKFR team raised more than $8,000 for the 2006 event.

“We as individuals try to get money for the cause,” Shaffer said. “It’s a good way to try and get your family and friends involved.”

In preparation for his first stairclimb, Whitish hops on the stair mill at CKFR Station 56 for about 30 minutes a day. Shaffer does a lot of outdoor activities to strengthen and prepare himself for the sprint-climb to the top of the Columbia Center.

Aside from the difficulty of climbing 69 stories, firefighters are clad in full bunker gear and breathing apparatus, which collectively weighs about 50 pounds.

“It’s challenging, mentally and physically,” Shaffer said. “It’s rewarding once you get up to the top.”

The public can tackle the same Columbia Center climb at the 22nd annual Big Climb, which also benefits LLS on Sunday, March 16. To register, visit the event’s Web site at www.BigClimb.org.

To donate money and help support a CKFR firefighter participating in the 17th annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, visit www.active.com/donate/17thscottstairclimb and select a firefighter’s fund-raising page from the drop-down list.

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