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Local firefighters ready to take on Seattle stairclimb

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | February 8, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — At first, Tennille Toussaint did the annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb to challenge herself.

Then the Selkirk firefighter raced against her previous times, determined to beat her score.

Then she lost a friend to leukemia, a 36-year-old mother of three.

Toussaint now runs for her.

"I'm going to do it every year that I can," she said. "I want to try to raise as much money as possible. Each time I [do the climb], I think about her."

After two years of being virtual, the annual stairclimb is returning to an in-person event.

In March 2019, the most recent in-person climb, the event attracted more than 2,000 firefighters from six countries who are sent off every 10 seconds in the timed run.

The climb, local firefighters wearing more than 60 pounds of turnout gear join firefighters from around the world to take on the 69 flights of stairs, 1,356 steps and 788 feet of elevation of Seattle’s Columbia Center in March. This year, the event will be held March 13.

To raise money for the climb — each participant is required to raise at least $300 — the Selkirk/Northside team will be hosting a fundraiser Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Super 1 Foods store in Sandpoint.

Team members will be taking to a stairclimb machine in full gear and are inviting the community to come down, talk to the firefighters about their mission and donate a little money to help fight blood cancer. With it being the team's only fundraiser, firefighters are hoping the community turns out in force to donate and help raise as much money as possible. The most money the 12-member Selkirk/Northside team has raised was $15,000 — they're hoping the community helps them beat that amount, Toussaint said.

"It's our one and only fundraiser this year," she added.

This year’s team features firefighters from both the Selkirk and Northside fire departments, including Connor Robinson, Allo Pucci, Clint Frank, Solan Wolf, Jeff Littlefield, Toussaint, Tim Coles, Tanner Wright, and Gwen Le Tutour.

The top climber with Selkirk Fire — Le Tutour — has made it into the top 25 for the past two years in a row. Frank wasn’t far behind, finishing about a minute behind to finish just out of the top 50 firefighters. Overall, the Selkirk team finished in the top 25 out of about 110-120 teams taking part in the event.

In addition to the weight and other physical challenges, the firefighters are also on air with their self-contained breathing apparatus as they make their way to the acclaimed observation deck at the top of the tower. The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb is the world’s largest on-air stair climbing competition, according to the event website.

The money raised through sponsorships, individual and department fundraising, and entry fees directly supports the mission of LLS. Each participant is required to raise a minimum of $300, and the event has raised more than $20 million over the years.

When it comes down to it, Selkirk Fire team members said the stairclimb is always about one thing — raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to find a cure for blood cancer.

Completing the climb is a physical challenge, but it is also symbolic of the strenuous journey that all cancer patients endure, according to the event website. As firefighters race to the top of the tower, they keep in mind that every step forward is representative of moving toward finding a cure for those battling a blood cancer.

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(Photo courtesy SELKIRK FIRE RESCUE & EMS)

Members of the Selkirk Fire & Rescue team pause from getting ready for the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb to get their photo taken. The team is holding a fundraiser Saturday at Super 1 Foods in Sandpoint.

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(Photo courtesy SELKIRK FIRE RESCUE & EMS)

A few members of the Selkirk Fire & Rescue team pause from getting ready for the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb to get their photo taken. The team is holding a fundraiser Saturday at Super 1 Foods in Sandpoint.

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