Months of training will be put to the test on Sunday for 10 members of the Cochrane Fire Services.

Each of them will be taking 1,370 steps to ascend the 57 storeys of Brooksfield Place in support of the services provided by Wellspring Alberta to individuals and families impacted by cancer.

Firefighter Chris Chyka says they have raised $4,794 towards their $5,000 goal so far.

There's still time to make a contribution. Go here to put your support behind Cochrane Fire Services.

For Chyka and Derek Orr, it's a special anniversary. They have participated in every Stairclimb Challenge since it was created in 2015 and are among the few 10-Year Champions. It fulfills a vow they made to each other at the first stairclimb.

"We caught up with Wellspring earlier this spring for a quick interview, and I think there's only six or eight who have done the entire 10 years, so we're extremely proud of that," says Chyka.

Even for people in as good a shape as firefighters, it's no easy task. It takes months of additional off-duty training climbing the steps of the hose tower. They begin with T's, shorts and running shoes, then slowly add the layers of clothing and equipment they'll be wearing on Sunday, including boots, gloves and breathing apparatus.

Inspired by Seattle’s Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, and founded by Kathy Blas, sister of fallen Calgary firefighter, Gord Paul, the Stairclimb Challenge is fully endorsed and supported by the Calgary Fire Department and the International Association of Firefighters Local 255.

Since 2015, it has raised over $2 million. Over 3,400 professional, volunteer, and retired firefighters have participated in the event, hailing from Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Texas, Alaska, California, New York, Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark.

Cancer is a health concern facing all firefighters. In Alberta, there are 20 presumptive cancers recognized as occupational hazards of the firefighter’s job. The goal of this event is to bring awareness and support to all firefighters and citizens living with cancer by supporting Wellspring Alberta.

About Wellspring Alberta

Wellspring Alberta is a registered charity offering a range of free programs for cancer patients and their families designed to provide connection and belonging; ease pain, fatigue and distress; build strength and mobility; and support financial and workplace challenges.

In Alberta, Wellspring is the only organization that devotes itself exclusively to the unique non-medical needs cancer patients face. Wellspring Alberta programs are available online, over the phone and in-person – meeting people where they are or where they feel most comfortable.

Its professionally-led programs meet the emotional, social, and practical needs of people living with cancer, and include:

  • Self-development & educational – Learn about resources, strategies and tools to live well with cancer. Besides recurring regular programs, Wellspring brings in a variety of speakers on different topics relating to cancer.
  • Therapeutic arts – Creative expression can foster healing, improve mental wellbeing, reduce stress, and support social development. Members express themselves through visual arts, writing, music and more.
  • Exercise and movement – Activity can be an important part of a cancer treatment plan, improving both physical and mental health. Health restoring programs help people recover from the various physical impacts of cancer. Programs include Tai Chi, golf, yoga, indoor and outdoor activities, and more.
  • Individual & group support – Many people living with cancer find it important to find a safe and confidential place to share personal feelings and concerns with others in similar situations. Here they can receive individual and/or group support that is specific to their needs. Wellspring has groups specifically for caregivers, Indigenous Peoples, men, and more.
  • Symptom management – Cancer and cancer treatment can bring a variety of symptoms, from brain fog to general fatigue to pain. These programs help manage symptoms to live better with cancer.
  • Finance & workplace strategies – Living with cancer brings many practical, real-life challenges, such as financial struggles, or returning to work following an extended leave of absence. These programs provide help overcoming challenges in the context of day-to-day issues. Programs include Legal and Employment Matters; Money Matters; Resumes and Interviews; Returning to Work; and more. 

Wellspring Alberta will also gift a portion of Stairclimb's proceeds to support the Firefighters Assistance Charitable Society (FACS), whose mission is to empower and strengthen the firefighter by enhancing the success and resilience of the firefighter community.