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Marysville firefighters will race up stairs to fight cancer

Teams from Snohomish County and around the world compete in an annual stairclimb to raise money.

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By Rikki King
Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE -- They honor a lost friend and share his story.
They also race up 69 flights of stairs, aiming to beat last year's times -- and each other.
Next month, 10 Marysville firefighters plan to compete in the annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb challenge at the Columbia Center in Seattle. The event raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which goes to blood-cancer research and patient services.
The Marysville firefighters will join teams from around Snohomish County and the world.
Firefighters on the job often see families affected by blood cancer and related diseases, said Jason Schoonover, president of firefighters Local 3219.
In addition, the Marysville Fire District lost one of its own about 10 years ago, when a rare cancer killed fire Lt. Jeff Thornton, 42. Thornton had been one of the first Marysville firefighters to compete in the event.
The crews bring Thornton's picture to the event and also display a memorial banner, team leader and firefighter Keoni Brown said.
They always hear stories from other firefighters who've lost colleagues and loved ones to cancer, Brown said. Many wear pictures of the people they've lost on lanyards around their neck or on their fire helmets.
"It's a pretty amazing event," Brown said.
The Marysville team usually raises a couple of thousand dollars every year by asking friends and families for donations.
The firefighters have to climb the stairs in full gear.*
"The members that participate train hard for this and take it pretty seriously," Schoonover said. "It's not an easy feat."
The firefighter stairclimb is planned for March 11.
Find your department
Go to and use the search box to see if your local fire department is participating.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449;
* Correction, Feb. 10, 2012: The gear that Marysville firefighters wear during the stairclimb was wrongly described in a previous version of this story.
Story tags » MarysvilleFirefightingCharity

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