APRIL 7, 1997

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Firefighters fight to beat leukemia


Left to right: Jim Rodgers, Jeff Fuller, Paul Peterson, Dan Quiggle, Ron Suggs, and Larry Laurent. Not pictured: Matthew Durham.
Photo by Matthew Durhan.

Big Climb for Leukemia by Karen Diefendorf
Shoreline firefighters took part in the Big Climb for Leukemia, an event in which participants climb the 69 floors of the Columbia Seafirst Center in downtown Seattle. But there was a small added provision to the challenge. The firefighters were to wear their full fire gear, including air tanks, a total of 30 pounds.
   So began the Firefighter Challenge with 35 participants; this year, 67 fire districts took part. Woodinville firefighter Larry Laurent was a member of that first team in 1992 and recently completed his sixth year taking part in the event.
   "The Climb began as a challenge; could we do it?" Laurent said. "Now it's a way to generate money for the Leukemia Society." This year, the Woodinville group raised $3500 in pledges for the event.
   The 1997 Woodinville Fire and Life Safety team was made up of Jim Rodgers, Jeff Fuller, Paul Peterson, Dan Quiggle, Ron Suggs, Larry Laurent, and Matthew Durham. The top finisher for Woodinville was Jeff Fuller, who was 6th overall with a time of 14:45. Laurent placed 19th with a time of 15:48, and Paul Peterson was 86th with a time of 18:30. The team finished 7th among the 67 departments represented.
   Training for the teams begins many months before the Climb. Besides their usual workouts, in December, Laurent and Fuller began weekly climbs up 11 flights of stairs. To better simulate the real Climb, Fuller did it with his 10-month-old son in a backpack.
   During the actual Climb, "heat is the biggest problem," Laurent said. "Close to the halfway mark, the heat started to affect me." Participants in the climb have come up with a variety of ways to combat the heat. Laurent told of one firefighter who ties icepacks next to his body to keep himself cool.
   In this year's Firefighter Challenge, 420 were entered; 388 finished. Of those, 374 were male and 14 were female. In 1996, $21,000 was raised through pledges, and although the total is not in yet for 1997, the total is estimated to be close to $40,000.
   Woodinville business sponsors for the Climb included Pro-Tech Services, Redhook Ale Brewery, Ste. Michelle Vintners, McLendon's Hardware, Quinton Fitness Equipment, Woodinville Fire & Life Safety employees, and MSA.
   All money raised by the event goes to support the Leukemia Society's five major programs: research, patient aid, public and professional education, and community service.