June 18th, 2019

Gruelling stairclimb more than worth it as local team helps fight cancer

By Medicine Hat News on May 7, 2019.

SUBMITTED PHOTO
Justin Coulter led a team of 18 Cypress County firefighters up the stairs at Calgary's the Bow tower Sunday as part of a fundraiser for Wellspring Calgary.

Eighteen Cypress County firefighters joined their colleagues from Medicine Hat, CFB Suffield and around the world for the Wellspring Calgary Stairclimb Challenge on Sunday.

The event has the firefighters climb the stairs of Calgary’s Bow Tower in full gear as a fundraiser for Wellspring’s cancer support initiatives.

Kelly Meyer, Cypress County’s fire chief, says the challenge lived up to its name.

“I should’ve worked out more,” he joked. “It was hot, it was a gruelling task, but we made ‘er.”

Like their Medicine Hat counterparts, the county firefighters were challenged with finding the appropriate venue for practice.

“A lot of the members just went and ran the stairs in Medicine Hat, just on the trails, on the paths, went to the gym – used the stair climbers and treadmills – and that’s about it,” said Meyer.

“We couldn’t really practise for an uphill climb like that, but we know the struggles of the Medicine Hat firefighters. We face the same ones.”

The Cypress County department placed third in group fundraising, with $13,100 raised.

Supporting individuals suffering from cancer and their families is an issue near and dear to firefighters, as their line of work puts them at greater risk of developing cancer than the general population, but Meyer says the battle against cancer is universal.

“In any way, shape or form, cancer’s affected everybody. It might not be directly being diagnosed with it, but it could be a friend, a family, a neighbour,” he said.

“Being a firefighter, there are about 17 types of cancers that have been recognized by Occupational Health and Safety as related to firefighters’ jobs, so we do have a higher chance of getting cancer, but having good cancer prevention programs in place should help reduce the risk.”

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

But those unable to make the trip to Calgary are also covered through Wellspring’s remote programs.

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