Jackson County Fire District #5 partnered with Dutch Bros. Coffee in Phoenix, Arizona to help raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle, which took place at the Columbia Center on March 11th, 2018. All of the money raised for the stairclimb go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and it is used to fund blood cancer research and treatment. “We're climbing 1300 steps, and it's 69 floors. 788 vertical feet. So, we're out here to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma, but we do get to participate in a fun event as well,” said Curtis Ulrich, a firefighter and paramedic for Jackson County Fire District #5.
According to LLS, in the United States, an individual is diagnosed with blood cancer every three minutes, making it the 3rd most deadly cancer among Americans. For this reason, the LLS is dedicated to funding blood cancer research, patient education, and patient services. Their mission is to cure lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb
The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, which takes place every year, is the world’s largest on-air stair climb competition. It is open solely to firefighters, and those who wish to participate need to complete the competition wearing full gear and oxygen. Completing the climb is physically challenging, yet it pales in comparison to the rough journeys that blood cancer patients have to undergo. In 2017, firefighters brought the record of funds raised to $2.4 million and today, in its 27th year, the event has helped to raise over $15 million for LLS. This year, the event features over 2,000 firefighters from more than 330 different departments and 8 countries. Participants who raise more $1,800 or more by the fundraising deadline of March 30th, 2018 will be guaranteed a spot at the 2019 early bird registration.
The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb Ambassadors each represent a different area across the U.S. and beyond. Each ambassador aims to help their team climb to their highest potential, all the while answering any questions that they might have and providing them with support for overall success. Apart from being firefighters themselves, they are considered champion climbers and top fundraisers.
- Richard Brown from the Boise Fire Department – “In 2011, I was able to raise $3599. Over the next six climbs, 2012-2017, I have raised $107,439. My Boise Fire teammates have stepped up fundraising activities on personal and team levels, and together we have raised $373,163 from 2011-2017. Every team can be this successful.”
- Scott Robinson from Coeur d'Alene Fire Department - “The more I get involved, the more people I seem to know who have a connection to the mission, and the more I want to help raise funds to support LLS. I want to help as many people as I can raise as much money as they can to support cancer research.”
- Dennis Schoen, Jr. from Sunland Park Fire Department – “Remember each day we wake up breathing is another day to make a difference in the lives of others and here at the SFFSC, it is working to put an end to blood cancers. See you in the stairwell!”
- Troy Maness from Veteran Administration Fire Department/East Helena Volunteer Fire Department – “I enjoy fundraising for this great cause, as someday we will conquer these blood cancers. Climb, Conquer, Cure is more than just words to me, it’s a mission! Together we can make “Someday” Today!”
- Nick Christensen from Navy Region Southwest Fire & Emergency Services – “Seeing the positive impact the Stairclimb has had with fundraising for LLS during my years of participating has made me want to do as much as I can to contribute and get as many people involved in the climb as possible!”
- Soren Lowe from Lewiston Fire Department – “We are all here for you every step of the way. I climb, WE climb, for YOU and THEM! Let’s kick cancer: CLIMB, CONQUER, CURE.”
- Josh Charles from Bozeman Fire Local 613 – “Nothing better than when a survivor, or a family member says "Thanks for helping me fight Leukemia". CLIMB CONQUER CURE, see you at the top!”
- Dave O'Connor from Nampa Fire Department – “Please remember, although the climb itself may be a grueling 15-20 minutes for us, there are those that go through much more every day fighting the fight for health. I look forward to 2018 towards the success of the climb and getting that much closer to finding a cure!”
Each year, LLS’s Scott Firefighter Stairclimb shares stories of blood cancer patients, survivors, and those of whom have tragically lost their lives. This year, one of the 2018 event honorees is Patrick Jessee, a current member of the Chicago Fire Department, who has been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. In 2011, Patrick found a small lump in his abdomen, but made nothing of it. Even when he began to experience symptoms a few weeks later, including back pain and a loss of appetite, he brushed it off as stress from the MCATs. Eventually, his pain became so severe that he decided to go and see a doctor. After undergoing a few tests, his blood work came back normal, yet the small lump in his abdomen persisted and his radiologist recommended a biopsy. Results from the biopsy were inconclusive and so, a second surgery was scheduled. After Patrick’s second surgery, his surgeon told him that he had a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hearing those words changed Patrick’s life, making him re-prioritize things and putting his family, friends, and time above all else.
The many resources the LLS has to offer
Patrick started doing research on his diagnosis and LLS was the first place he turned to. “When I first called LLS, I was surprised to find a live agent on the phone offering me financial assistance information, treatment information, and people to talk to about my emotions. It was such a welcoming feeling from an organization that I had never even considered before,” he said. Over the course of the next six months, he received treatment for his lymphoma, resulting in several hopeful and fearful experiences. He had to put his career with the Chicago Fire Department on hold, but he strived to live a life filled with more compassion and purpose. “LLS has allowed me an opportunity to do this through a variety of ways: fundraising through Light the Night, Team in Training, Man and Woman of the Year, and now the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb” he said. Patrick stresses that he does not see himself as a survivor, but rather a fighter. He does not see his cancer experience as being over, but a continuous battle with an aim to “eliminate the possibility of another person being diagnosed.”
Since the year 1949, LLS has been on the forefront of blood cancer therapies. It is changing the landscape of cancer by actively working on over 300 research projects, each with an aim to support patient services and advocates working for blood cancer patients far and wide. To date, the society has invested well over $1 billion for the development, production, and implementation of effective blood cancer therapies and several drug treatments. LLS is committed to saving thousands of lives not someday, but today.