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Climbing for a good cause

POULSBO — It dominates the Seattle skyline, but next month, firefighters from around the state will be tackling all 1,311 steps of the Bank of America Tower with the hope of conquering an even larger obstacle — Leukemia.

It’s a deadly disease that Poulsbo firefighter Trevor Holmberg knows all too well. He lost a cousin to the blood-related cancer 15 years ago and has been looking for payback ever since.

Holmberg will get his chance on St. Patty’s Day during the 11th Annual Firefighter Challenge.

The race to the top of the tower is unlike other “civilian” events, the new hire pointed out, because participants must complete the rigorous course and climb 69-stories in full gear. This means boots, pants, a lined coat, gloves, helmet and breathing apparatus. It also means plenty of excess weight for the contestants — about 60 pounds — but the difficulty of the race only seemed to further Holmberg’s interest.

“We do it in full gear,” he said with a smile, noting that Poulsbo’s finest firefighters wouldn’t just be competing against other departments in the race, but in a fund-raising event as well.

“Basically, anyone in our department who wants to do it can do it,” he said.

Holmberg has taken it upon himself to get his co-workers excited about the challenge and has already started his crusade to raise as much money as possible for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. His aim is for Poulsbo to become the top fund-raiser of the event and beat the $10,000 mark set by Snohomish Fire District 7 last year.

“I really want to get people involved and get businesses involved as well,” Holmberg explained, adding that he would be making the rounds to area homes and businesses to raise money. “The whole event is to benefit research.”

“I want to show Poulsbo’s pride and make the fire department here the biggest fund-raiser for the event,” he remarked. “I’ve just taken it upon myself to raise money.”

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