BILLINGS - After a cancellation in 2020 and a virtual event last year, more than 1,500 firefighters will compete in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle on Sunday.
Billings firefighters have a team of 12, including one from Lockwood and one from Boston.
Some have already left and some are leaving Saturday.
And for firefighters, it's about competition, camaraderie, and a cause.
They will climb 69 flights - 1,356 steps and 788 feet in vertical elevation - to the Sky View observatory on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center in Seattle.
This year, Billings firefighters will climb for 5-year-old Tristan, who has leukemia.
"One of our firefighter's son has leukemia and so we'll all be climbing for Tristan team," said Cameron Abell, a Billings firefighter. "Tristan is kind of what we're doing this year. So we've all got pictures of him and we'll carry those pictures to the top floor of the Columbia Center."
Abel said Missoula firefighters will also climb for Tristan.
"Firefighters are all really close across the country, and especially in Montana," he said. "One of the Missoula firefighter's kid had cancer a couple years ago, and we ran for him and so now it's kind of a return the favor."
Through the brotherhood, Abell roots for Missoula firefighter Andy Drobeck, who won the Montana marathon in 2018 and is a six-time stair climbing champion from 2012 to 2017.
"My brother Andy Drobeck from Missoula has the top time of all time for the stair climb," Abell said. "He does really well every year. He's always the one to beat. They're always chasing him. There's definitely a sense of pride having a guy from Montana win it. I count Andy is one of my friends and I know Andy from way back when he used to be a wildland firefighter and lived here in Billings."
Abell says firefighters raised $20,000.
Altogether the stair climb will bring in near $2 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.