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Firefighters climb for a cure

You can help

East Fork Professional Firefighters Association will be passing the boot noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Topsy Walmart and noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Gardnerville Smith’s. To donate online, visit http://bit.ly/EFPFStairclimb

Twelve hours of fundraising started early on Friday as East Fork Battalion Chief Troy Valenzuela and Douglas County Sheriff’s Capt. Dan Britton hit the Stairmasters in Gardnerville.

Passing motorists honked their support as Valenzuela, in full gear, and Britton got in their steps in front of Big Daddy’s Bike & Brew as the first shift.

Members of the East Fork Professional Firefighters Association are raising money to attend the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle on March 8.

Friday’s fundraiser featured live music, raffle prizes, Bus Boys Food Truck and the two Stairmasters to work off lunch.

The goal is to raise $25,000 in a month to send a dozen association team members to Seattle. The team will race to the top of the Columbia Center, climbing 788 feet up 69 flights of stairs, consisting of 1,131 steps, all while wearing full gear, including oxygen tanks.

“This is the eighth year East Fork will send a team to Seattle for this event,” said Association Charity and Donation Chairman Kevin May. “We all climb for our own reasons. Some of us have friends and family that have been diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma, including brothers and sisters in the fire service.”

Big Daddy’s Bike & Brew owner Kevin Hart said his own family has been affected by leukemia, which is one of the reasons he wanted to do something to help.

“Two years ago, my wife Monica was diagnosed with ATL Leukemia, a very rare blood disorder, which, 10 years ago would have been an almost immediate death,” he said. “Because of the research provided by LLS and the new treatments available, she was able to go to UC Davis and immediately begin a treatment regime. I’m proud to say because of that she is in remission.”

In addition to Valenzuela and May, other members of the team are Chad Sheldrew, John Brawley, Dennis Cote, Aaron Leising, Adrian Marquez, Rylan McDougal, Dominic Merlino, Torril Purvis, Bret Sanchez and Nick Summers.

“Over the past seven years, we have raised over $50,000 for this great cause,” May said. “This year, we want to go big and raise $25,000. To do that, we need our community to rally behind us.”

Friday’s event won’t be the only opportunity to donate to the cause. Association members will be asking people to “Fill the Boot” noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Topsy Walmart and noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Smith’s in Gardnerville.

Online donations may be made at http://bit.ly/EFPFStairclimb.

For more information about the Firefighter Stairclimb and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit http://www.llswa.org.