It's a special 10th anniversary of grit, determination and sore muscles for local firefighters Chris Chyka and Derek Orr.

Since 2015, they have climbed nearly 14,000 steps up Calgary's tallest buildings in support of Wellspring Cancer Support

On June 9, they'll be climbing the 1,370 steps of the 57 storey Brookfield Place wearing modified fire gear. So far, another six members of Cochrane Fire Services will be joining them.

Cochrane firefighters have participated since the first one, but Chyka and Orr are among a couple of handfuls of firefighters who have completed the feat every single year. Annually, it attracts about 500 participants.

This year fulfills a vow they made to each other years ago to continue to make the climb for 10 years.

Certainly, it provides a sense of self satisfaction, but there's a greater cause at the root of the stairclimb, says Chyka. He says the numerous programs of Wellspring are invaluable to cancer patients and their families to help them on their journey.

He knows of some who have gone a few rounds with cancer who have come out on the winning end with the support of Wellspring.

"Although the medical treatment side is extremely important, so is having a strong mind. I really think that's where Wellspring steps up and provides a lot of support. If you're strong in the mind, it makes that recovery process maybe a little bit easier and I don't use that word lightly, but it helps those people navigate those rough waters."

Each year is admitted harder. Chyka, now 47, and Orr, 52, have been training since November. It means rising early before their shift to run the four and a half stories of the local hose tower 20 times in preparation for the climb.

They build slowly, starting their training in shorts, shirts and running shoes, then adding tanks, helmets and boots.

Like last year, they'll be wearing their wildfire coveralls instead of full bunker gear. Bunker gear is treated with PFOS chemicals that may possibly be carcinogenic to humans. Wearing it doesn't align with the values of Wellspring, says Chyka.

The Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge in Calgary was originally inspired by Kathy Blas, sister of local fallen firefighter Gord Paul. The challenge involves firefighters from all over the world coming together to compete and climb while raising money for Wellspring Alberta.

Mayor Jeff Genung has joined local firefighters in taking the challenge several times but had to bow out due to an injury. At the 2019 climb, he captured the "Challenge the Chief" helmet by raising $16,000 for Wellspring.

Chkya says Cochrane Fire Services has established a goal to raise $5,000. People can support either individual members or the entire Cochrane team through the Starclimb's website.

For more information or to make a donation, click here.

fire rcmpThe community rallied to support the return of the Fire vs RCMP charity hockey tournament in February.

Fire vs RCMP hockey game

February marked the return of the Fire-RCMP charity hockey game after a six-year hiatus. The final tally from the charity event is now available.

Family, friends and supporters of our first responders packed the stands for the game and helped raise upwards of $2,100 for the Cochrane Foundation.

"We loved that we were able to support some of these community initiatives and especially that one," says Chyka. "It was the right score (Fire won), and it was a nice amount to donate to the foundation."