Welcome to Team Mann!
69 Flights I 1,356 Steps I 788 Ft. Vertical Elevation
Climb. Conquer. Cure.
Where do I begin? My quest to end Leukemia and Lymphoma started almost 40 years ago. My childhood friends, Tony and Trish Martwick lost their cousin, Larry Martwick, to Leukemia. This terrible disease hit closer to home when I lost my cousin, Steve Swearingen to Leukemia. Having limited knowledge at the time, I always thought I'd get to see Steve when he was better. I regret not getting down to him sooner before he passed. My last visit for him was at his memorial where I spoke about a cousin who was a hero to his little cousins. A man who always took time throughout his life to make sure his little cousins felt special. I do miss him.
As I got older, I looked for a way that I could give in Steve's memory. When I became a firefighter I found my avenue through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their annual firefighter stairclimb. It seems each year that I have someone new to climb for. I'm saddened by the frequency of this. I started climbing for Steve and Larry but have since climbed in the memory of an incredibly sweet 4 year old girl names Addy Jo Clifton. Who passed just months short of her 5th birthday. Addy has since spurred me to become a bigger advocate. Looking at that beautful child and knowing there was nothing I could do to help ran a dagger through my heart. I have since put the people I climb for on my climbing turnouts. In memory, I have climbed for Addy, Steve, Larry, and Phil Ireland. I also have people who have survived because of the work of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. These people include my mother, Beth Mann, Anita Houghton and a special little girl who was recently cleared of stage 4 Hodgekins Lymphoma, Kaylee Rankin.
What truly inspires anyone who knows me is the miracle known as Jim Piper. 5 years ago, Jim collapsed at work at his foundry in Wisconsin. Jim was one of the best friends I had growing up. His family is my family. His little sister Jackie called me up to tell me that we needed to go there because he was dying. This was literally hours after finishing my 4th stair climb. He had undergone chemo and radiation but organ damaged and potential failure made them stop. He had developed Pneumonia and he was slated to die. Jim was adopted so there was no close match in the family. His parents got the courts to open his adoption papers and they found out that he had a full blood sister who lived mere hours from them. They called in the middle of the night, telling her she had a brother. Her response? "I always felt I did, what's wrong?" They explained and she caught the next flight out. The feeling was that it was a hopeless attempt but they gave Jim a bone marrow transplant from his sister who was a perfect match. Jim had a white blood cell count of zero. Needless to say, he survived and I had the pleasure of wathcing him marry last year. Jim and his family could have never gotten that result without the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He owes his life to their ground breaking discoveries that all of you provide with your sponsor of me. This money does not go to overpaid CEO's or staff. It goes to research. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is the world's largest VOLUNTARY health agency dedicated to blood cancer. Last year 15 of the 18 FDA approved cancer drugs for blood cancer treatment were developed thorugh support of LLS. These treatments are now being used to fight ALL cancer.
So this year? Well, unfortunately, Leukemia has struck again in one of my dear colleagues, Ken Bisbee. I know he doesnt want attention drawn to himself because Ken has always been about doing for others. A teacher of 30+ years and still teaching debate and musicals in his retirement, he has always given so much to the Ridgefield community. Ken is fighting this thing and we are there to support him.
What is the LLS Firefighter Stairclimb?
The LLS Firefighter Stairclimb is the world's largest on-air stair climb competition, and annual fundraiser held at the tallest building in town, the Columbia Center. All 2,000 participants are career or volunteer firefighters who will climb up the second tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi in full turnout gear, weighing over 50 pounds, while on-air. Throughout the 69 flights of stairs, 1,356 steps, and 788 ft. of vertical elevation gain, we all remember that every step forward is representative of moving closer to a cure. Although this is an extreme test of physical endurance, it pales in comparison to what blood cancer patients endure. All proceeds raised directly benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and since its inception in 1991, this event has raised over $17 million thus far.
Thank you for your time, consideration, and sincere generosity. We climb because beating cancer is in our blood.
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