By Jenny Weekes, Captain, West Pierce Fire District 2
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Each year, West Pierce firefighters participate in the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle to support the battle of Leukemia. This year, on March 10th, 30 West Pierce will be climbing a little harder since the recipient of this year’s climb is one of our own. Firefighter Steve Vukich’s son Cole is the honoree for the event.
Cole was diagnosed at 2 years old with Biphenotypic Acute Leukemia (both AML & ALL). Cole is currently receiving high-risk ALL treatments. In the past 3 ½ years, Cole has had to endure 25 intrathecal lumbar punctures (where chemo is injected into the spinal fluid), 98 IV drip chemo infusions, 7 MRI’s, 4 CT’s, 5 Bone Marrow aspirations, 7 Blood transfusions, 5 platelets transfusions, IVIG infusions, Pic line placements, and surgery for port placement. He takes between 1 and 9 chemo pills daily, which is all to keep the cancer from returning. Cole has been in remission for a year and a half and has 7 months of chemotherapy left to go. We were told this makes him one of Mary Bridge’s longest on treatment pediatric cancer patients they have ever had. When Cole is done he will have been on treatments for 3 years and 10 months. And the best part? He has been a trooper through every bit of it.
At 788 feet of vertical elevation, the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle stands as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi. It takes 69 flights of stairs and 1,311 steps to reach the highly acclaimed observation deck overlooking the city. The firefighters competing in this event wear full protective gear along with their SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) breathing through their masks the entire climb. The gear they wear weighs in excess of 50 pounds. The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb supports the mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising money through sponsorships, individual and department fundraising, and entry fees. In 2012, the event featured over 1,550 firefighters from 281 different departments from all over the world.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. Since the first funding in 1954, LLS has awarded more than $814 million for research specifically targeting leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
The 30 firefighters from West Pierce Fire & Rescue would appreciate any donation that you can make. Donations are tax deductible and can be made to the West Pierce Fire & Rescue team at here.