Members of the Rockport and Gloucester Fire Departments will literally run the gantlet at the TD Garden this weekend to support first-responder families across the state.
The firefighters have signed on to participate in the fourth annual BFit First Responder Challenge, presented by the Boston Bruins Foundation, this Sunday Jan. 26. Participants will run a multi-level course that wraps around all three levels of the TD Garden. The race starts with a lap up and down all the stairs of the TD Lodge Level, followed by laps around the Suite and Balcony Levels, and concludes with a descent to the ground floor via the back stairwell. Many firefighters run the race dressed in their full equipment.
Rockport fire Lt. Michael Elwell helped organize his team after some of the members in his company, Sandy Bay Engine Company, expressed interest in signing up.
"I sat down with Assistant Chief (Mark) Schmink (of the Rockport Police Department) and he helped get the drive going because I've never done something like this before," Elwell said. "So I put out a sign-up sheet and got a group together."
Gabe Liebensperger, Ethan Tanson, Nathaniel Favaloro and Sipu Paul have joined Elwell and registered for the team.
Originally, members of the Rockport Police Department were also going to participate as a team as well.
"We ended up not having enough people signed up," said Officer Dan Mahoney, who was the only one in the department to register.
This will be the first time each of the firefighters will run the BFit Challenge.
"We're just going to wing it," Elwell said. "We're going to gear up and to treat it like we're going to work. We're all getting amped up about wanting to do it."
All individual participants in the BFit Challenge are required to raise at least $300 before the event, and the groups they're running with can choose which nonprofit will receive their donations. Rockport Fire Department has chosen the New England Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation, and as of Friday, they had raised just over $1,000.
"Cancer is one of the (most common) occupational risks for firefighters," Elwell said. "(The organization) helps prevent other firefighters from getting it and supports those who have the illness."
Members of the Gloucester Fire Station Two — Chad Mota, Andrew Pierce, James Hannon, Nicholas Ouellette and Charles Scola — have also formed a BFit team. Each of the firefighters participating were off duty and could not be reached Friday.
"They've done it in the past," Elwell said. "A lot of those guys have done (similar events) in New York City as well."
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or email@example.com.
HOW TO HELP
To donate to either the Rockport or Gloucester Fire Departments' B Fit Challenge, visit https:// charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/bfitchallenge, select "Donate," and chose either "Rockport Fire Department" or "Gloucester Firefighters" from the "Select a Team" drop-down menu.