Sisters firefighters don’t let obstacles deter them from accomplishing their mission. So when the annual Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Stairclimb was forced to go virtual by the COVID-19 pandemic, they adapted.

Traditionally, firefighters from across the region gather in the spring to ascend the Columbia Center in Seattle, Washington, raising cancer-fighting funds through pledges. The event is also a test of firefighter fitness and grit. For the virtual event, firefighters were asked to stay in their own communities and find an appropriate spot to simulate climbing 69 flights of stairs in full turnout, with breathing apparatus.

On Saturday, David Ward and Jeremy Ast, who were signed up for the event, headed over to Reed Stadium to climb the bleachers over and over again. Though they were not officially signed up, Avery Deutz and Tyler Smith decided to join in the fun.

“Everybody was done in under 23 minutes,” Ward reported. “That was a pretty respectable time.”

There were nine people signed up on the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District team, though not all were able to be on hand at Reed Stadium.

More important than smoking the arduous physical challenge, Ward reported that the team raised approximately $18,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, far exceeding last year’s total of approximately $13,000. Ward thanked the Sisters Country donors and his fellow firefighters who made a real effort to raise funds and awareness.

“It means a lot to me, because I used to have lymphoma,” Ward noted. “So I’m definitely behind the climb and what it stands for.”

Sisters firefighters have been participating in the climb for five or six years, Ward said, and now it’s become a big deal for members of the district.

“It really took off the last three years,” he said.

For more information, visit https://www.llswa.org.