In March, 2,000 firefighters, all donning their gear and masks, will take to the seemingly endless flights of stairs at the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle — going up flight after flight until exhaustedly reaching the top.
No, it’s not some sadistic training requirement — although participants are calling it a worthy test of their physical fitness — it’s instead something of a metaphor of taking steps forward in the fight to find a cure to leukemia and lymphoma.
“Throughout the 69 flights of stairs, 1,356 steps, and 788 (feet) of vertical elevation, gain, we all remember that every step forward is representative of moving closer to a cure. Although this is an extreme test of physical endurance, it pales in comparison to what blood cancer patients endure,” reads an excerpt from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) website.
Four firefighters from Centralia’s Riverside Fire Authority will be among the ranks. One of them, Capt. Scott Weinert, said he participated 17 years prior. Despite the passage of time, he recalls the extensive physical exhaustion one experiences on the steady incline.