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January 26, 2013

Climbing for a cause

City, town firefighters gear for lung disease benefit

Firefighters from three of Cape Ann’s communities will suit up in 60 pounds of firefighting gear and race up 82 flights of stairs — that’s 798 steps — at the 41-story Boston Place building in Boston.

Funds raised during this ‘American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb’ support research of lung diseases, and Gloucester’s firefighters have a special driving force behind their effort; they’re raising money for American Lung Association research in memory of Michael Smith, a Gloucester firefighter who died after a battle with lung cancer in July.

So far, Gloucester’s team of five has raised $390, but the guys hope to draw in more donations in the final fund-raising week, which finishes on the day of the climb a week from today, according to Nicholas Ouellette, a Gloucester Firefighters team member in the stair climb.

“We lost a guy to occupational cancer, so this cancer research, it’s really important to us,” said Ouellette, who wore a T-shirt Friday with a Michael Smith quote on back. “Hug a Firefighter...Save a Life,” it reads.

Just one of Gloucester’s team members, Chad Mota, ran the stairs last year. Mota finished in 9 minutes and 37 seconds in the 2012 climb, while carrying his 60 pounds of firefighting equipment. The other men, Kevin Gargan, Mike Mitchell, Robert Gerety Jr., and Ouellette are new to the team, but ready to hit the 789 stairs, Ouellette said.

“We’re nervous, but it’s 10 minutes of hard work and you’re done,” Ouellette said.

The Gloucester firefighters are not alone.

Manchester and Essex firefighters, along with the owners of CrossFit Gloucester, have also been training hard — and fund-raising hard too, with $1960 collected as of Friday night.

Three members of the Manchester Firefighters team raced to the top last year and in 2011, including team captain Mike Soucy.

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