Talk of the Times: Firefighters climbing 789 steps to fight lung cancer

Photo courtesy Gloucester Fire Department Gloucester firefighters raised more than $3,000 for the American Lung Association during the 2019 Fight for Air Climb. This year's team hopes to do the same. Last year's climbers were, from left, Lt. Chad Mota, firefighter Alison DeMeule, Firefighter/EMS Coordinator Jon Sanger, firefighter Jack Brancaleone, Capt. Jim Burke, now retired Assistant Chief Tom Aiello, and firefighters Nick Aiello, Jim Hannon, Tom Aldrich, Mike Mitchell and Charlie Scola. 

Gloucester firefighters are gearing up to battle in the American Lung Association’s (ALA) annual Fight for Air Climb next month.

This will be the ninth year in a row that a team of city firefighters has participated in the Fight for Air Climb, Chief Eric Smith said. The climb is an annual ALA fundraiser which seeks to support the organization’s lung health research, patient education and public policy efforts.

This year’s climb will take place March 28 at 8 a.m. at One Boston Place, 201 Washington St. in Boston. 

“This is a great challenge for all of us to do every year,” Lt. Chad Mota said in a prepared statement. “It keeps a lot of us in shape, and it raises money for lung disease research and prevention, which affects so many people, including those in our profession.”

Besides Mota, 10 members of the Gloucester Fire Department have signed up to participate in the climb: Firefighter/Paramedics Jack Brancaleone, Jak Letien, Jim Hannon and Mike Shulman; Firefighter/EMTs Wellington Machado and Charlie Scola; Capts. Jim Burke and Jamie Santos; Lt. Nick Ouellette; and Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Jon Sanger.

The group has already achieved its $1,000 fundraising goal, and has raised the bar to $3,000 to match the amount last year’s team raised. Donations on behalf of the Gloucester Fire Department’s team may be made at

Those taking part in the event will climb 41 floors and 789 stairs in Boston. To train for the event, members of the department are running as well as climbing stair climbers and stairs while wearing air packs and gear.

Stars among us

Three social media stars from Gloucester and Rockport high schools’ student bodies will be giving a talk about their impact on and offline. 

1623 Studios will host high school students Nate Oaks, Jamison Wrinn, and Rumi Thomas on Thursday, Feb. 27. The teens will discuss their successful social media accounts that range from lifestyle to sports to creative video posts. 

Oaks is a TikTok star with millions of likes on the growing platform. 

Wrinn covers sports for Ride the Wave Media on Instagram. 

Thomas is a local lifestyle influencer. 

This free event is scheduled to take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at 1623 Studios, 11 Pleasant St.

To RSVP for one of the 35 available tickets, go to

‘Freezin’ for a Reason’

Members of the Gloucester Rotary Club and regional Rotary District 7930 are no doubt hoping the forecast for mild temperatures this weekend holds up next Saturday.

The Rotary is set to hold its 10th annual Polar Plunge — dubbed “Freezin’ for a Reason” — on Saturday, Feb. 29, on Long Beach in Gloucester and based around the Cape Ann Motor Inn.

The plunge, set for 11 a.m., serves as a fundraiser for Rotary International’s ongoing campaign to eradicate polio. All Polar Plunge donations will be matched 2:1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

As of Friday afternoon, 199 people are expected to hit the water, including Gloucester Rotary President Mark Grenier and Times editor David Olson. Meanwhile, 761 donors had pledged $61,164 toward the district’s goal of $150,000. 

Supporters are encouraged to log on to to make a pledge for the fundraiser.

Anyone seeking more information on the project may also visit or

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