Rising to challenge

By Seymour Telegraph

Nagambie CFA member Stacey Hardinge has reached her personal goal of climbing 28 floors — a total of 476 steps — of the Crown Metropol Tower dressed in 25kg of gear for the fifth annual Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb.

The event’s aim was to raise $700000 for Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute to improve support services, fund research, remove stigmas and raise awareness of mental health issues such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide, especially for those within the emergency services and defence communities.

A memorial service in honour of fallen firefighters — including 38 Metropolitan Fire Brigade members, 79 CFA members and 343 Fire Department of New York members — started the day.

This year the service also remembered the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots members who died in the line of duty in Arizona, in the United States, in June 2013.

Stair climb participants were given a T-shirt with the names of those they were climbing the stairs in remembrance of, which many wore under their firefighting gear in support.

‘‘It was tough going and after five or six flights I started to feel it,’’ Ms Hardinge said.

‘‘But I felt good when overtaking a few runners after checking they were okay.

‘‘It got hard to breathe, and volunteers were on each floor to help you with water, have a sit down for a short break and see if you were all right, then encourage you to go further on.

‘‘Half way up, I felt, ‘darn, I’m only half-way there’. So I kept on with it, head down, not looking at the floor numbers, and just kept going.

‘‘I felt a few times it was a bit much, and thought I might not make it, but then I said to myself, ‘I want to make it, I will’.

‘‘It was a big relief when the check-out guy said ‘you’ve only got a few steps to go’. Then I followed him and he led me to the finish line on floor 28.

‘‘I couldn’t run there, so I walked and it felt great.’’

Ms Hardinge did the climb in just nine minutes and 28 seconds, and was thrilled with that result.

‘‘I would be happy to do it again, and would encourage others to have a go as well. Not just for making money for the cause, but to achieve a personal best at a worthwhile cause,’’ she said.

‘‘I wanted to raise $1000 and was able to raise $2050 with the help of local businesses, CFA mates, Lions Club and family.’’

— Diane Grant