GARDNERVILLE – The East Fork Professional Firefighters Association raised nearly $9,000 for cancer research in March by participating in the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb in Seattle and St. Baldrick’s in Carson City.
Firefighters Chad Sheldrew, Troy Valenzuela, Torril Purvis, Kevin May, Matt Smith and Steve Fletcher traveled to Seattle to race to the top of the Columbia Center, in full gear, climbing 69 flights of stairs, 1,131 steps and 788 feet of vertical elevation, to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“We climb not only because it’s fun, but it’s for a great cause,” said Sheldrew, stair climb team captain. “We do it for the ones who can’t climb because they are affected by these cancers. We want them to know they aren’t going through it alone.”
Community members donated money in support of the firefighters. Pinion Hills Elementary School students raised more than $2,000 as a school project on behalf of a member of the student body who recently had a relative diagnosed with leukemia.
Students presented their fundraiser to the school board, then set to work distributing 350 change boxes for students to take home. Collecting loose change, students presented firefighters with $2,116.98 at a school assembly.
EFPF members competed for time in their respective divisions. Valenzuela came in 13th place out of 71 in the chiefs’ division and Purvis ranked 37 out of 171 in the women’s division, and 4th out of 16 in her age division.
Four association members, Sheldrew, Rylan McDougal, retired firefighter John Bellona, and Jake Ferriera, participated in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation shave-a-thon at Red’s Old 395 Grill in Carson City on March 17, raising $1,080 from community donations. Ferriera graduated from the Carson City Regional Fire Academy the same day.
EFPF threw down the gauntlet to Carson Fire to see which association could raise more funds online, and while Carson raised more than double EFPF’s contribution, Paul Azevedo, president of the EFPF, said the association was successful.
“The way we see it is any money we raise will help with critical cancer research,” Azevedo said. “Beating Carson would have been a bonus, but we’re happy to contribute and to show our new recruit our connection to our community, both in Douglas County and beyond.”