It looks hard without 50 pounds of gear weighing you down.
On Friday, West Pierce firefighters demonstrated the task that faces a group of them later this month: climbing 788 feet of elevation, or 1,311 steps, as part of the 22nd annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The firefighters from Lakewood and University Place took turns on a stairclimber machine positioned outside Trader Joe's, demonstrating their vertical climbing abilities and collecting money for the cause.
This year, the team has a special connection to the fundraiser: Cole Vukich. He is the 6-year-old son of West Pierce Fire & Rescue firefighter Steve Vukich and his wife Brooke. Cole was diagnosed at 2 years old with Biphenotypic Acute Leukemia (both AML & ALL). He has been chosen as the 2013 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb Honoree.
Cole is currently receiving high-risk treatments including intrathecal lumbar punctures (where chemo is injected into the spinal fluid), IV drip chemo infusions, bone marrow aspirations, blood transfusions and surgery for port placement. He takes between one and nine chemo pills daily, all to keep the cancer from returning.
The 6-year-old has been in remission for a year and a half and has 7 months of chemotherapy left to go. This makes him one of Mary Bridge's longest on-treatment pediatric cancer patients. When Cole is done, he will have been on treatments for 3 years and 10 months.
Great job, West Pierce. Good luck!