Firefighters step up to the challenge to climb for MND

Cobar Station 256 retained firefighters Pete Vardanega, Jamie Peters and Alex Lennon (along with Khan Fugar who is absent from the photo) are training to climb the Sydney Tower Eye building in the name of fundraising for Motor Neuron Disease.

Four members of Station 256 Cobar are teaming up to climb 1,504 stairs in full fire fighting gear in the name of motor neuron disease (MND).

Alex Lennon, Jamie Peters, Pete Vardanega and Khan Fugar have signed up as team ‘4 Howie’ to take on the 1,504 steps of the 98 floor Sydney Tower Eye building to raise money for vital research into MND.

The Fire Fighters Climb for Motor Neuron Disease will see over 400 firefighters tackle the big climb in October wearing their full  fire fighting ensemble, weighing in at 20kg, and they need to do it as quickly as possible.

Alex told The Cobar Weekly he is hoping to raise $1,504, a dollar for every step of the tower and reported that both Pete and Jamie are aiming for the same amount, however Khan has set his goal higher at $2,000.

All four are active retained firefighters at Station 256 Cobar.

“The climb is only open to emergency services people, you must be a volunteer or permanent member of an emergency service to do the climb,” Alex said.

“Pete and Jamie were involved in the climb last year and it was talked about this year as a group, it was a station decision,” he said.

Alex described his training for the climb as ‘needing all the help he can get’ but did say that his recent trek of the Kokoda Trail definitely helped. He is also training by climbing Fort Bourke and the pavilion steps at Ward Oval.

“Khan wants to set a new record so he is training lots and Pete is naturally fit and lives at the gym on his days off so he will be fine,” Alex said of his teammates.

The team has been making appearances at various events around town to help with their fundraising, including having one of the station’s firetrucks at the markets.

Alex and Khan will also be collecting money in the main street this Saturday wearing the full gear they will be climbing in.

They also have donation collection buckets at local businesses.

Earlier this week, there were 461 firefighters registered to take part in the climb and over $96,000 had already been raised towards their goal of $1million.

The money will go to Macquarie University which is the home to Australia’s largest MND research facility.

MND is a progressive, terminal neurological disease with no known treatment or cure.

In Australia two or more people die from MND every day and more than two people are diagnosed with the disease each day.