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Kent firefighters train, collect money for major climb

Capt. Rick Cox of the Kent Fire Department tackles the the StairMaster at Kent Station in preparation for the March 10 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb. - Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter
Capt. Rick Cox of the Kent Fire Department tackles the the StairMaster at Kent Station in preparation for the March 10 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter

Capt. Rick Cox stepped off the StairMaster, removed his oxygen mask and helmet and collected his breath.

"Felt good," Cox said after completing a 15-minute aerobic challenge on the machine during a Kent Fire Department fundraiser at Kent Station last Saturday.

Fox and 13 other Kent firefighters are preparing for the March 10 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, a race up Seattle's Columbia Center to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Kent firefighters have raised about half of their $10,000 goal with a month to go. They raised $485.20 for the team last Saturday.

At Kent Station, nine fully-equipped firefighters took 15-minute turns on the StairMaster, climbing a total of 515 floors, a distance of 10.5 miles.

The firefighters greeted the public while accepting donations.

"We are working hard and determined to reach our goal," said Art Weichbrodt, a veteran firefighter and team captain.

Cox, from Station 74, (pictured right) is competing in his second Stairclimb, having covered the distance last year in 18 minutes, 39 seconds. Cox, 46, is looking for a personal best this time around while participating for his uncle, whose leukemia is in remission.

Each firefighter – packed with 55-60 pounds of gear and breathing bottled oxygen – will race up 1,311 steps on 69 flights of stairs for an elevation gain of 788 feet to the Columbia Center's observation deck. A total of 1,552 firefighters from 281 departments participated last year and raised a record $1.2 million for blood cancer research and patient services.

Kent firefighters raised more than $7,000 last year.

More than 1,550 firefighters signed up for the event this year, which sold out in 11 minutes.

The public can donate online at: www.llswa.org.

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