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While we dined at the Applegate Fire District’s fundraising event, the firefighters trained in full gear.

An Applegate firefighter trains for the world’s largest on-air stair climb competition to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)

Story by Gabrielle Pullen


What is involved in the “Longest Firefighter Stairclimb in the World”?

69 flights

1,356 steps

788-feet of elevation gain.

That’s what I learned at the recent fundraising Spaghetti Feed on Thursday, October 13th at the District 9 Fire Station in Ruch. Volunteers and firefighters turned up for dinner wearing 60-plus pounds of gear, in addition to 28-pound oxygen tanks. They are in training for the largest on-air stair climb competition in the world. 

On March 12, 2023, our geared-up firefighters will ascend Seattle’s tallest building, The Columbia Center, in order to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The massive level of physical challenge the competition entails serves as a symbol of what blood cancer patients endure just to breathe.

While eating our spaghetti, we watched our brave men and women in training for this event. Covered head to toe in fireproof uniforms—even goggles–they took turns on the stair climber and the rowing machine.  It was clear the level of fitness required is one regular spaghetti-eaters like us could never even aspire to.

The view from The Applegate District Fire Station is spectacular.(Photo by Gabrielle Pullen)

But our volunteer and career firefighters are not ordinary people. It takes a special kind of person to be willing to live on the edge of life and death and we owe them a huge debt for their brilliant work this year, keeping the fires at bay.

Since the first LLS Firefighter Stairclimb in 1991, the event has raised over $22 million.

The firefighters pay their own travel and accommodation costs for this March 12, 2023 event. They also must raise the $300 entry fee.

They have put themselves on the line for us, it’s time to return the favor in kind.

If you would like to support our firefighters in this superhuman quest to ascend The Columbia Center (and benefit LLS!), you can donate online here, or send a check to:

Applegate Fire District 9

1095 Upper Applegate Rd.

Jacksonville OR 97530

About the Writer: Gabrielle Pullen, MFA is a somatic practitioner with a special affinity for helping people transform trauma into creative writing. To meet her online and discover how writing can help you harness the power of your emotions for good, visit email