East Helena firefighters raised thousands to help fight blood cancer

Montana LLS Firefighter Stairclimb Ambassador Troy Maness
Posted at 1:11 PM, Mar 29, 2024

EAST HELENA — Earlier this March, over 100 firefighters from throughout Montana took part in the annual LLS Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle.

“It's just a minute, small amount of what I can give for these folks that are going through this stuff,” says Firefighter and Montana LLS Firefighter Stairclimb Ambassador, Troy Maness.

Every year, firefighters from throughout the country gather in Seattle for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Firefighter Stairclimb.

This year, 25 teams – 101 climbers – from Montana took part and raised over $120,000. East Helena Volunteer Fire Department firefighters Troy Maness and Brandon McClain alone raised $8,000.

The two gentlemen were climbing for Nikki MacMillan, a 2024 honoree for the entire event. Maness first heard of Macmillan when his sister mentioned she was a former student at Capital High diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. A recent graduate of Flathead Community College’s small business management program, she’s undergone chemotherapy treatment as well as a bone marrow transplant.

On March 10, Maness and McClain climbed 69 flights of stairs, or 1,356 steps, and met Macmillan at the top.

For the past 9 months, MacMillan has been in full remission. Maness says that if you want to get involved you don’t need to be a firefighter. You can donate to LLS any time of the year or sign up to be a match for the national bone marrow donor program.

“You don’t have to wait for the firefighter stairclimb guys to get out there and do a fill the boot or anything. You can go to their website, make a donation there. If you're interested in trying to be a match, you can go,” says Maness.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article had misstated MacMillan's degree major as a culinary degree when it was a small business management degree. The article has been updated.