Waimate firefighters conquer Sky Tower

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by Alexia Johnston

Waimate firefighters Mark Joyce and Andrew McKenzie have helped raise more than $1.25million after conquering the Sky Tower stair challenge.

The men were among 950 firefighters who climbed all 1103 stairs of Auckland’s Sky Tower for the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge on Saturday.

Participants, who each wore full firefighting kit and breathing apparatus weighing up to 25kg, put their bodies through the gruelling challenge as a fundraising effort for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Mr Joyce and Mr McKenzie raised a combined $6000 this year, and completed the event in 13min 34secs and 19min 32secs respectively.

It was the fifth time Mr Joyce had taken part in the event, and Mr McKenzie’s second.

“It’s just a good cause,” Mr Joyce said, of the reason he sets himself up for the challenge year after year.

The duo started training in November, with the assistance of Fonterra who allowed the men to use a set of their outside stairs.

Mr Joyce thanked everyone who provided sponsorship and helped raise the much-needed funds, including Hilton Haulage, Netcon, Active Refrigeration, Fonterra Studholme and Oceania Dairy.

About 200 fire brigades from around the country were represented at the challenge.

The various groups hosted a range of fundraising events in the lead up to the event, including car washes, sausage sizzles and quiz nights.

This year’s combined fundraising target was $1 million.

The funds raised will help Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand run their vital nationwide service, which supports New Zealanders and their families who are living with a blood cancer.

Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand general manager Georgie Hackett said the ongoing support from brigades and their local communities was humbling.

“We are so grateful forthe tremendous generosity and hard work of firefighters participating in the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge,” she said, before the event.

“This fundraising is the backbone of our service and helps us grow our vital support for families living with blood cancer in their communities right across the country.”