The BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall event took a different form this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but two members of the Lake Cowichan Volunteer Fire Department stepped up anyway.
In most years, firefighters from across B.C. get together at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver where they put on full gear and air tanks and climb up 42 storeys of stairs to raise money for the BC Lung Association. They couldn’t do it quite that way this year, so the Climb the Wall Virtual Challenge was created. Participants downloaded an app, then counted their steps and completed other challenges throughout the month of February.
Among the participants were Elija Ellison and Jessica May of Lake Cowichan, both veterans of the actual Climb the Wall event, who weren’t going to take a year off.
“It’s easy to say that Jess and myself both like a challenge,” Ellison told the BC Lung Association. “We like to get involved as much as possible, while still working full time and caring for our families. Because that’s what we want our kids to know and do, always strive to be the best you can and have fun doing it.”
This year’s event wasn’t limited to firefighters, but allowed for civilian participation as well, so Ellison and May, who each have two kids, dragged their youngsters along.
They appreciated having an extra incentive to be active and demonstrate a healthy lifestyle to their families.
“It was great because it kept us motivated on a general day-to-day basis,” said Ellison.
The two firefighters raised a combined $820 for the BC Lung Association, which provides support for people with lung conditions ranging from asthma to cancer.
May has competed in Climb the Wall three times, twice winning the award for fastest female, and Ellison has been once before.
“It’s 42 storeys of stairs; you’re pretty exhausted by the end of it,” Ellison recalled. “It’s an awesome experience.”
That doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy the virtual event.
“We both loved every minute of it,” Ellison said. “So this year it was easy for us to make the decision to do the challenge virtually. We love to help in any way and feel honoured to represent our department.”
Both firefighters plan to return to Vancouver as soon as the actual Climb the Wall event is back on.
“If they have it again, we will definitely be there,” Ellison said.