Firefighters set to race for cancer charity
Thursday, Apr 28, 2016 10:58 am
Four local firefighters are busy raising money for the second annual Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge, to take place on May 1 at Calgary’s BOW building – the tallest building in Western Canada and the highest elevation firefighter stair climb in the world – in support of firefighters and citizens living with cancer.
The annual event is hosted by the Calgary Firefighter Benevolent Society (CFBS), and will see up to 500 firefighters from the Rocky View region and beyond climbing the 1,204 steps of the BOW in full firefighter duty gear.
Airdrie resident Mike Tapp, a firefighter with the Calgary Fire Department, will be participating for the second time.
“This is a great way to help bring awareness to people living with cancer, who are suffering and dealing with pain all the time,” Tapp said. “The least we can do is spend fifteen minutes in our gear, going up some stairs in a little discomfort and pain to raise some money for them. It doesn’t compare to what they are going through.”
According to a press release from Wellspring Calgary, 11 presumptive cancers are a recognized occupational hazard of a firefighter’s job. This fundraiser provides assistance to firefighters and citizens living with cancer who access the resources provided by Wellspring. Tapp’s motivation, he said, is personal.
“I’ve had family members who have been affected by cancer, and it’s really important to me to give back,” he said. “The first time I did it, I was nervous – it’s a big building and you really don’t know what you’re in for – but that’s kind of how our job goes. You never know what the next call is going to be.”
While Tapp admitted the event is a challenge, he said he enjoyed the camaraderie with the other firefighters participating in the stair climb. In 2015, 200 firefighters participated in the climb, including some from Ontario, British Columbia, Oregon, and New Jersey, raising more than $120,000.
“The fundraising is a lot of fun,” Tapp said. “Seeing the reactions you get from people, thinking you were nuts to race up those stairs with 45 pounds of gear on your back – helmets, boots, everything. And people have been so generous.”
Despite a struggling economy, Tapp said his own fundraising efforts have only seen a slight drop from last year. Currently, he said he’s raised more than $1,600 for Wellspring, and is hoping for even more by the day of the race on May 1.
Even if he doesn’t raise any additional funds, he said, the event will still be an opportunity for Tapp to support a worthy charity – with the help of his son.
Tapp’s 15-year old son is a cadet through the Calgary Fire Department who will be volunteering his time to help out on race day.
“I’m so proud to see that he understands why this is important, and that he’s willing to sacrifice his time to help out,” Tapp said. “We are all brothers and sisters at the end of the day, all working together for the same thing.”
Funds raised at the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge will support Wellspring, a Calgary-based organization that, according to their press release, provides a vital complement to medical treatment – helping heal the body, mind and spirit of those living with cancer. For more information, visit wellspringcalgary.com