August 25th, 2019

Trio of local firefighters off to Calgary for Wellspring stairclimb

By Medicine Hat News on May 3, 2019.

SUBMITTED PHOTO
Firefighters from all over the world, including three from the Hat, will be climbing the stairs of the Bow tower in Calgary this weekend in full gear to raise money for Wellspring Calgary.

Three Medicine Hat firefighters are going to Calgary this weekend to participate in Wellspring’s fifth annual stairclimb.

The event has the firefighters raise money for Wellspring Calgary, which provides support for cancer patients and their loved ones, to climb the stairs of the Bow Building in their full uniforms.

“We climb 55 stories in full firefighting protective clothing,” said Robert Stock, one of the Hatters participating in the stairclimb, adding that it’s a daunting task.

But our firefighters will be well-prepared.

“Obviously, there’s nothing with similar size (to the Bow tower) around Medicine Hat, so we use the various firehalls and different city facilities … that have the most stairs and then use weighted vests, and climb the stairs repetitive times.”

Rene Grigat is another member of the Medicine Hat Fire Service going to Calgary this weekend.

He participated for the first time last year, which occurred after his father died of cancer.

“It was a hard thing to do. I wanted to do that for my dad and for all the people who fight cancer,” said Grigat.

He said he plans to pace himself better this year, because last year he started off too quick, which slowed him down by the end, finishing with a time of 20 minutes and 13 seconds.

“I hope I can shave that down this year to 17-and-a-half, 18 minutes,” Grigat said. “That’s what I trained for.”

According to Wellspring Calgary spokesperson Pat Fream, the goal is to raise $420,000 this year.

“We have hundreds of volunteers and supporters and nearly 600 firefighters signed up – lots of teams from the US and some from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Alaska,” she said.

Firefighters are at a heightened risk of developing cancer due to the nature of their profession, added Fream.

“Unfortunately, we have firefighters from our own department in Medicine Hat here (who) are battling cancer. And to show them that we’re fighting with them, we do this as if it would be a real fire call and we’re going in full gear to show how strenuous it is,” said Grigat.

Wellspring is in the process of building a new facility in south Calgary, which is intended to serve the entirety of southern Alberta, which is slated to open Sept. 3.

But those unable to make the trip to Calgary are also covered.

“We will be here to support those who come to Calgary and High River for treatment and we hope to offer remote programs and deliver services to those who cannot come to one of our two centres,” said Fream.

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