Three members of the Whanganui Volunteer Rural Fire Force have answered the call and will journey to Auckland this weekend for a worthy cause.
Team captain Aaron Whitford, Blair Gray and Simon Dibben will be part of a 500 strong army of firefighters participating in the annual firefighters Sky Tower Stair Challenge, a fundraiser for Leukemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.
This will be Whitford's eighth ascent of the Southern Hemisphere's highest freestanding building.
"I do this climb as this is another way to help and support people in our community who unfortunately have a blood type cancer such as Leukaemia. I have lost family members, including my dad, and friends who have passed away from other illnesses and cancers – and this is another way of remembering them for me."
This is the first time Gray and Dibben have participated and will be in the Rural Section, where they will wear their wildfire/vegetation firefighting gear and carrying a chainsaw. Whitford is in the Donned Section, wearing structural firefighting kit with breathing apparatus weighing around 25kg.
Whanganui Volunteer Rural Fire Force have already raised $6000, more than double what Whitford was anticipating.
"Just because of Covid and all it's uncertainty. But we are absolutely stoked with that."
Of the 100 brigades participating, Whanganui is 21st in terms of money raised.
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At a height of roughly 10 Durie Hill Towers, Whitford said it is a way of giving back and great to push yourself.
"Even though the climb is physically and mentally demanding – it is good fun, it has great camaraderie, and it is all for a great cause. Even though it is a physically and mentally demanding challenge, it is less of a challenge than those who are currently battling a blood type cancer."
Donations are still being taken until 3pm Saturday, November 21. The best way to donate is to go to firefightersclimb.org.nz – team search "Whanganui Rural Fire" and donate online or go to their Facebook page "Whanganui Rural Fire Sky Tower Team" and follow the links.