Hundreds of firefighters climb 1,370 steps to raise money for Wellspring Alberta.

More than 500 firefighters from around Alberta, across Canada and internationally donned modified gear Sunday and participated in the 10th annual firefighter stair climb challenge at Brookfield Place in Calgary.

The event benefits Wellspring Alberta.

“We’re a provincial organization. We exist to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone. We have two houses here in Calgary, another in Edmonton, but we serve the entire province through our online platform,” said Natalie Noble, Wellspring Alberta’s CEO.

While the stair climb gives firefighters a chance to hone their fitness and agility to better serve their communities in times of crisis, it also highlights the occupational risks, including heightened cancer exposure, firefighters face in their daily quest to save lives and keep our communities safe

“We know that firefighters generally have a higher incidence of cancers,” says Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth.

“It’s well, well documented, well proven, and it’s something we work hard to do our best  in terms of protective equipment, health monitoring, those kind of things, but inevitably, we still have firefighters who suffer from cancer,”  Dongworth said.

All the support programs offered through Wellspring Alberta are free.

“We support people to enhance their quality of life, enhance their mental health and their physical health as they go through their cancer experience, and we do this by offering programs and services to improve their quality of life.,” said Noble.

“Wellspring is a great organization out there to help people navigate their journey through cancer, not with physical treatments or anything, but with counseling, with mental health support, with family supports, and just a myriad of other things they do,” said Dongworth.

So far the event has raised $350,000 and counting.