On April 29, 2018 six of Bonnyville’s finest volunteer firefighters embarked on a physically and mentally challenging endeavour- to hike up all 55 flights of the Bow Tower in Calgary in order to raise funds for Wellspring Calgary. The Wellspring offers a multitude of support services for those enduring the effects of cancer. Firefighters, in particular, have an increased risk of developing cancer due to the nature of their job and Wellspring offers their resources to those in need.
After months of training, Colin Atkinson, Curtis Blanchette, Dylan Cummins, Laura Regenwetter, Steve Stone, and Craig Wenzel took on the challenge to don their bunker gear and air tanks to make the trek to the top. These 6 members of the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority raised $4771 to donate to Wellspring.
When asked about his motivations, Cummins said, “At first it started off as a friendly challenge from Craig Wenzel but as I did more and more research into Wellspring Calgary I realized the potential to give back to those who are battling cancer due to the risks of the job. The team took the challenge very seriously, we would practice 2-3 times a week training for the event. When I got to see the Bow Tower I was very nervous. I’m proud of the effort the team put forward and I look forward to future climbs.”
Our firefighters ascended all 1204 steps with an average time of 23 minutes. On the ground, cheering on the climbers were numerous family members offering encouragement and support.
“I am a very proud firefighter’s wife every single day, but I have never been as proud as I was on Sunday. Not only proud of my husband, but of the entire team that went up the Bow. They all went in together, they all came down together, and they were all so proud of each other throughout. Climbing 55 flights of stairs in full gear takes guts, and guts is what our guys and gal had. Seeing the comradery really is something special. They’re like a family. In the two years my husband has been with Station 5 we’ve gained a whole new family. For myself, some of my best friends are firemen’s wives. We have a common bond through our heroes and I can’t imagine life without them now,” said Kayla, Blanchette’s wife.
For some of these firefighters it was their first go at the Bow, for others, like Wenzel, Stone, and Reganwetter, they have climbed each year since the the start of the competition which was 4 years ago.