POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Each year, firefighters from around the globe gather in Seattle to climb up the Columbia Tower for the LLS Firefighter Stairclimb. 1,356 steps and 69 floors up, their mission is "to end blood cancer one step at a time."
This year, the Pocatello Fire Department sent four members to the Emerald City.
“The temperature in the stairwell is probably 110 degrees, it smells like sweat and puke and there’s gloves everywhere," Pocatello Stairclimb Captain Jordan Peterson explained.
The event, now in its 28th year, has raised over $17 million, with more than 2000 firefighters from around the world participating.
“You know, I think that we’re all affected or we’re all connected to somebody that's affected to cancer," Peterson said. "Whether we know it right away or not.”
It's that type of connection that got Peterson involved several years back.
“When I first started at the department, a friend of mine had been diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and she made it just about a year," he said.
"It started out, they just kept diagnosing it as heartburn. And that’s the important part, is this comes down to research. It comes down to knowing the signs and symptoms and being able to afford to do these things to find out what the problem is.”
Peterson has been involved every year since her passing, working with thousands of firefighters from countless departments to help find a cure.
“I can't cure cancer, the rest of the guys on my team can't cure cancer, but what we can do is provide a window of opportunity for people to give money to those people who can do that," he said. "And so its kind of up to us to be that change that we want to see.”
The department has raised nearly $12,000 this year and the campaign as a whole is nearing a record of $3 million. Just under $200,000 shy, Peterson believes they can hit their mark before Thursday.
“It just depends on donations, it's just that next ten dollars that could be it, you know,” he said.
The campaign runs until April 11. If you wish to donate, you can do so here.