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The Big Climb

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Nine Canby Fire District 62 firefighters are headed to Seattle again this year to participate in the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) fundraiser, the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, also known as Big Climb 31 or just The Big Climb, on Sunday, March 26.

Nine Canby Fire District 62 firefighters are headed to Seattle again this year to participate in the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) fundraiser, the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, also known as Big Climb 31 or just The Big Climb, on Sunday, March 26.SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Canby Fire District team that will be going to Seattle in March as part of The Big Climb competition.

The Big Climb is a timed race up the 69 flights of stairs, or 1,311 steps, including 788 feet of vertical elevation, at the Columbia Center, the tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle.

The Canby Firefighters making the climb for the fourth time this year are Jordan Haag, Brad Frank, Taylor McCool and Paul Phillips. Scott Davis is climbing for the third time, Austin Holmes and Andrew Aamodt are climbing for a second year, and Keith Nichols and Jason Wanner plan to participate for the first time.

Each firefighter will race to the top of the Columbia Center in full SCBA gear — a self-contained breathing apparatus worn by rescue workers to provide them with breathable air in dangerous atmospheres and in contained spaces.

Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis, 62, will participate in The Big Climb for his 26th time, and plans on doing two races to the top floor of the skyscraper. In the 2016 race of fire chiefs, Chief Davis finished 12th overall out of 61 participants.

In 2016, the Canby Fire team finished 30th out of 175 teams with an average two-race time of 49:13.

As of press time, the Canby Fire Department had raised $2,325 toward its goal of $10,000, getting it about one-quarter of the way there, according to the LLS website.

Chief Davis is blowing his team members away at fundraising, too. He's already raised $1,600. The rest of the team has combined to raise only $725 so far.

"Every time you share with someone that you are participating and why, you are raising awareness," Davis said. "Every time you raise $1 or $1,000 you are bringing (Leukemia) one step closer to finding a cure. Because of you, we will see a day when every diagnosis will become a success story. If you would like to donate you can use this as a tax deduction next year."

Last year, nine Canby Fire firefighters also compared their finishing times against each other. Haag came in first with a time of 14:52, Scott Davis was second with a time of 16:44, followed by Aamodt (17:39), McCool (18:52), Holmes (18:58), Cody Miller (19:07), Chief Davis (20:06), Bradley Frank (23:12) and Paul Phillips (37:06), according to results posted on the LLS website.

And while a little competition can be healthy, The Big Climb itself can be a life-threatening challenge. Chief Davis said that occasionally participants have had heart attacks, or dropped in the stairwell, while making the 788-foot vertical climb, which perhaps is better described as a vertical run. This year's event has about 6,000 participants, but the argument can be made that those 6,000 firefighters will be in one of the safest places possible to have a heart attack — surrounded by first responders — in the event something like that does become an issue.

The Chief said the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scott Firefighters Stair Climb is the fundraising event he most looks forward to every year, and he and the other Canby firefighters always train hard, for instance, by working out on a stair climber at the fire station.

"If you're not ready it will take you down," he said.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Big Climb event raises money through team and individual fundraising, entry fees and sponsorships that then get invested into the organization's mission — to fund blood cancer research and to provide support services for patients, according to the event's website.

In 2016, the event sold out in just eight hours and raised more than $3 million. In 2015, The Big Climb sold out in nine hours, raising $2.92 million, and in 2014 it sold out it 13 hours and raised $2.42 million.

To learn more about the event visit the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb website at www.llswa.org. To make a donation visit the Canby Fire web page on the LLS site at www.llswa.org/site/TR?px=1688966&fr_id=1552&pg=personal.