Boise Fire Department pulls ahead in fundraising lead for Stairclimb

Boise Fire Department pulls ahead in fundraising lead for Stairclimb »Play Video
BOISE - It's a race with one goal: to simply finish.

So grueling... even firefighters are pushed to the limit.

"I was about 20 minutes the first year, I was just under 18 minutes last year, and the winner last year was 10 minutes and 40 seconds... amazing," said team captain Rich Brown, with the Boise Fire Department.

Brown has a team of 30 firefighters and they practice at the Unico US Bank Plaza.

It's only 20 flights, but a good test for the 69 they'll climb in Seattle for the 22nd annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.

A team of 12 Nampa firefighters are also testing their limit.

G.T. Hauser's the guy to beat: at 13 minutes, 34 seconds, he's Idaho's fastest firefighter.

"I have personal goals and that's what I focus on, not what anyone else does," he said.

But speed is only part of Sunday's Stairclimb.

It really isn't about time or trophies.

"This year, I set my goal pretty high, I set it at $7500. Right now, I'm at $5,400 dollars," said Nampa firefighter David O'Connor.

It's about something much bigger. Just ask Rich Brown.

"I figure I have about nine years, ten years until I can retire," he said. "If I raise ten thousand dollars a year, I can raise a hundred thousand dollars in my buddy Jason Werst's name."

So far, he's been the top fundraiser, but the amount raised by firefighters changed by the day, if not hour!

In his first year, Brown raised $6,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Last year, $10, 860. He's hoping to beat that this year, so he's carrying inspiration every step he takes.

"All of our team members are going to carry a picture of Gabriel up the stairs this year," he said.

Gabriel's the son of an Ada County Dispatcher.

Born in 2011, the little guy's been battling Leukemia.

Nampa's David O'Connor also has reason to climb.

Someone took him in when he was a rookie firefighter, then got sick.

"She was a mother-figure to me," O'Connor said. "And when she got sick, it was one of those things where you really feel helpless not being able to do anything."

On race day, the firefighters will climb 788 vertical feet.

It will test their limits, both physical and mental.

"On every flight, there's a picture of somebody that's been affected by leukemia, lymphoma, and that brings everything to light. it makes you just push on," O'Connor said.

So if you learn one thing about what these guys do, they want you to know... why they do it.

"The pain and agony that we go through for 70 stories and stuff, is nothing compared to what they're going through now," O'Connor said.

Rich Brown will tell you... just because you're strong, doesn't mean you're immune.

"It doesn't look out there and say oh, I'm gonna stay away from these guys and these girls, or these people in general. Cancer affects everyone - all walks of life, all ages, all races," Brown said.

But with every dollar raised toward research, they're one step closer... to a cure.

Both the Boise and Nampa fire departments are among the nation's top 10 fundraising departments.

If you'd like to donate, head to: and click on "donate" using either a fire department or firefighter's name.