The annual Sky Tower Stair Challenge, taking place on May 28, sees 850 firefighters from across New Zealand, Australia and the United States come together to tackle the 1103 steps of Auckland's Sky Tower, with a goal to raise $850,000 for the charity.
Rotorua Airport fire fighter Quentin Hamilton is taking on the challenge for the first time with team mate Jeffrey Hall. He said his inspiration came from his experience with the disease. "Like a lot of people in New Zealand, cancer has affected members of both mine and Jeffrey's families in some way. "The Sky Tower Stair Challenge is an awesome way to raise awareness of the cause and give back a little bit.
"Each day, six New Zealanders are diagnosed with blood cancer and Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand is a charity that gives awesome support to patients and families - it's also a charity that receives no Government funding so we're aiming to raise $3000 as a team through the challenge," Mr Hamilton said.
Chasing the donned category record for wearing full kit (no mask), currently held by the Lake Okareka Volunteer Rural Fire Force, the Rotorua Airport 'Vegas Boys' team are in full training mode to ensure they're over prepared. "While I'm really excited for the challenge, I'm also a little daunted as I just don't know what to expect on the day - on top of our usual airport training, Jeffery and I have been running in the Redwoods and tackling the Novotel's stairs with our full kit on to get as fit as possible.
"On the day, the real challenge will be contending with the heat of the stairwell and also getting fresh air into our lungs, as we won't be using oxygen masks." In between grueling training sessions, the Vegas Boys have been raising funds through firewood sales, raffles and barbecues, as well as collections at Bike the Runway and in the airport terminal. "We're already getting close to our target, so at this rate we're going to smash our goal - it's a really good feeling."
Rotorua Airport chief executive Nicole Brewer said the airport was proud of the Vegas Boys' commitment to the challenge "The effort the boys have put into their training and fundraising has been impressive. It's been great to see the airport community and wider Rotorua community support the team and it has created a real sense of camaraderie.
There will also be a team of seven fire fighters from the Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Brigade, a team of eight from the Lake Okareka Volunteer Fire Brigade and a group of two from the Rotorua Fire Brigade competing in the challenge.
Support the Vegas Boys by buying a sausage at Bunnings Warehouse this Sunday, or visit www.firefightersclimb.org.nz/Donate to donate online.