Shaun Stephens-Whale of Roberts Creek tore up the stairs of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver last Sunday with the fastest time in the annual BC Lung Association's Climb the Wall: the Stairclimb for Clean Air.
Stephens-Whale posted a time of 4:28, 11 seconds, slower than his record setting run of 4:17 in 2006.
And he wasn't alone in his success, as several members of the Gibsons, Roberts Creek and Sechelt fire departments also took up the challenge, all raising hundreds of dollars for the cause.
Roberts Creek raised more than $1,400 with its team of Chris Rose (13:40), Sean Hatanaka (14:08) and Stephanie McLeod (14:38). Melanie Tilley volunteered as a stair monitor on the 45th floor.
“I am very proud of my crew members who participated in the climb and volunteered for the event as well as the other Sunshine Coast firefighters who took part,” said Roberts Creek Fire Chief Rob Michael. “Stephanie felt the strain on her own lungs while climbing, reinstating her devotion to the cause. She hopes that she can continue on next year as a celebration of her friend's recovery. Sean found the climb to be a great experience and helped him appreciate how lucky he is to be able to breathe without difficulty.
“Chris had a great time testing his physical fitness while utilizing it as a team-building exercise. Melanie said it was incredibly exciting to watch such amazing individuals putting their strength and effort towards a very good cause. She is a proud member of a very strong group of individuals and neighbouring departments who, on a daily basis, put the safety and best interests of our community front and centre. She found it no surprise that each one of these people signed up for this cause.”
Gibsons firefighters raised more than $1,200 with their team of Adam Vanderwoerd (9:30), Sebastian Sleep (9:53), Cody Robinson (10:51), Neil Donovan (11:05), Tyler Nestman (11:24), Keith Andrews (16:47) and Rob Humphries (18:45).
Sechelt was represented by one of its members, Dagan Benner, who raised more than $250 and clocked in at 9:51.
All of the firefighters made the climb with more than 50 pounds of turnout gear including their oxygen tanks.
Mike Beckner of Victoria was the fastest firefighter to climb, reaching the top in 6:43.
In all, some 400 participants took part in this year's event.
“We had a terrific mix of people, young and old,” said event organizer Kate Jarvis. “We had firefighters and top-ranked athletes, people directly impacted by lung disease, people looking for fun and community involvement — all uniting in support of lung health and clean air.”
The event played out against a backdrop of rising concern for the lung health of British Columbians.
“Not a day goes by when we do not think about people affected by lung disease: the child with breathing problems, the worker losing lung function because of inhaling dust and fumes on the job, or the grandmother crippled by lung disease caused by a past smoking habit,” added Scott McDonald, CEO of the BC Lung Association.
To participate, each stair climber had to fundraise a minimum of $125. So far, the event has raised more than $110,000. Post-event fundraising will continue until April 5.
All event proceeds support vital lung health research. To make a donation, see www.stairclimb.ca or call the BC Lung Association at 1-604-731-LUNG (5864).