Some of what promises to be one of Climb the Wall 2020’s largest regional firefighter teams. Front row left to right, Chilliwack Firefighters: Jared Weins, Bruce Tupling, Jake Hunter (Climb Team Captain 2020), Darren Callaghan, and Jenny Ballam. Back row left to right, Cultus Lake Firefighters: Jeff Boychuk (Climb Team Captain 2020), Cory Helmer, Shane Taylor, Cody Helmer and Justin Adams.

Chilliwack and Cultus Lake firefighters to ‘Climb the Wall’ for Connor

Local climbers to honour young colleague who died in December at annual BC Lung Association event

Held annually for the past 19 years, the BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall stair-climb fundraiser helps fund vital lung patient support programs, research and advocacy initiatives across the province.

This year, however, the event has additional meaning, providing a special occasion for local firefighters to come together in tribute to Cultus Lake firefighter Connor Sloan, a young man lost in December 2019.

At Climb the Wall on Feb. 23, firefighters compete in their own dedicated category for fastest climb time wearing full protective gear and breathing apparatus – no easy feat when you consider that means hauling an extra 50 pounds up all 48 storeys to the top of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.

“Climb the Wall allows us to come together as a firefighting community to advocate for a cause that strikes close to home – and this year, with Connor’s passing, the event has special significance,” said Chilliwack firefighter Jake Hunter who together with Cultus Lake firefighter Jeff Boychuk anticipates as many as 50 firefighters, family and friends to attend form the region in honour of the young firefighter.

“We know if Connor were still here, he would be right beside us, gearing up to climb for a worthy cause,” Boychuk said. “Connor was always ready to lend a hand, always had a kind word, and this event is one example of the many ways he would make time for others. So instead, we’re coming together to climb for Connor.”

Year 2020 will mark Chilliwack firefighters’ second time and Cultus Lake firefighters’ first time taking the long way up. Stair climbing alongside will also be a large contingent of family, friends and lung healthcare professionals climbing in tribute to loved ones affected by respiratory illness.

“Firefighters routinely find ourselves at risk of exposure to harmful air pollutants as firefighters,” Hunter said. “While we take precautions and wear special gear to protect ourselves, each fire exposes us to a mix of toxins that can contribute to firefighters’ increased risk of respiratory disease and cancer.

“We value the opportunity to support the BC Lung Association in its efforts to promote and protect lung health and clean air, and look forward to taking part with our Cultus Lake peers.

“B.C.’s firefighting community is very much a partner and significant contributor to our annual event,” said Christopher Lam, CEO of the BC Lung Association. “Their ongoing commitment to the cause is hugely appreciated.

“Together firefighters, lung healthcare community members, and participating members of the public have raised almost $2 million since the event first began. We’re extremely thankful to everyone involved – including Climb the Wall’s long-time sponsor, event host and brunch provider, the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel.”

To make a donation in support of your local firefighters visit www.stairclimb.ca, click donate, and search for the team “Chilliwack or Cultus Lake Firefighters” or search a specific firefighter by name.

To participate in the event, non-firefighter climbers pay a $25 registration fee and commit to fundraising a minimum of $125. In return, every climber receives a limited edition 2020 Climb the Wall T-shirt, brunch and front-row seats to some unique Sunday morning fun.

All event proceeds go towards much-needed lung health and air quality research, education, and lung patient support programs across the province. For more information or to register please call toll free 1.800.665.LUNG or email stairclimb@bc.lung.ca.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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