Richmond Firefighters Gearing Up for American Lung Association
RICHMOND -- The Richmond Fire Department will head to Minneapolis this weekend to take part in the Fight For Air Stair Climb, an annual fundraiser for the American Lung Association.
For more than a decade, the stair climb event has been held in prominent skyscrapers in cities around the country, raising over $40 million to fight lung disease and cancer.
The event features individual climbs by people in workout clothes along with the Firefighter Challenge, which features about 30 teams from fire departments all over the state climbing the steps in full gear.
This year will be the sixth for Richmond Assistant Fire Chief Jesse Kollmann, who says he comes back year after year for a few reasons.
"It's the self-challenge that I give myself -- as long as I can keep doing it, I'm going to continue on doing it," Kollman says. "Another reason is my wife's aunt passed away from lung cancer in 2004, so that's also what keeps the drive going to keep doing this."
Kollmann says the climb at U.S. Bank Plaza -- 31 flights (680 steps) in nearly 50 pounds of firefighting gear -- is a bit of a grind.
"The first couple flights, you pretty much get an adrenaline boost and you want to [go] as fast as you can," Kollmann says. "The toughest part is trying to pace yourself."
"Your legs start going numb after the fifth floor, your lungs feel like you're inhaling fiberglass -- it's a struggle, but then at the end you have one heck of a reward."
The sense of accomplishment and rewarding feeling Kollmann says the event evokes in him has him thinking he will return for the Fight for Air Stair Climb for a seventh year in 2017.
"I did explain that this may be my final year but with the input I'm getting from everybody else, I'm thinking I more than likely will be back next year."
The event starts at 7:00 a.m. Saturday in downtown Minneapolis. If you want to help the cause, you can pledge donations to the Richmond Fire Department or individual firefighters on the Fight for Air Stair Climb website.