Firefighters reach for the Sky

KRIS DANDO
Last updated 11:28 03/06/2014
Sky challenge

Hot steppers: Porirua firefighters with their trophy for the best fundraising team nationwide and the smaller trophy. Clockwise from top left, Steve Mitchell, Paul Setefano, Sam Payne, Alamaine Thomas, Siaosi Meavao.

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Paul Setefano should be used to the Sky Tower Challenge by now, but he feels like there are more steps each year.

The Porirua firefighter was a standout in the fundraising stakes for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, which each year challenges fire stations around the country to raise money for support services and research into the disease.

The fundraising culminates in a gruelling climb up the Sky Tower in Auckland.

Setefano raised nearly $15,000 by himself - he started rattling his bucket in public and getting people to sponsor him back in December.

His Porirua team - himself, Sam Payne, Alamaine Thomas, Steve Mitchell and Siaosi Meavao - collected $40,572, the highest amount of any team in New Zealand.

Porirua also won individual fundraising awards in 2011 and 2013.

Setefano said he was blown away by people's generosity.

"When I registered I hoped to raise $11,000, and I was able to pass that in six weeks. There's a real giving spirit out there and it makes you proud. I reckon about 85 or 90 per cent of the money we raised came from just shaking buckets in public."

He said he still got the same buzz crossing the line in his gear at the top of the Sky Tower, but it's getting harder after five years.

"I go up with new people each time and get a kick out of it. It does feel like they're adding five or 10 floors [there are 51 to climb] each year though.

"We didn't train as hard for it as in the past. All our focus was on fundraising."

For the record, Mitchell shaved 30 seconds off the Porirua record for the stair climb, getting to the top in 15 minutes, 23 seconds.

The winner took a staggering 8 minutes, and Setefano about 30.

Setefano said the run up the Sky Tower was offset by catching up with old faces and a sense of camaraderie among the participants.

Payne has raised $8838 to date, Thomas $7539, Mitchell $5267 and Meavao $2628.

Setefano said there would be a push to hit the $1 million mark nationwide.

See firefightersclimb.org.nz to donate.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

$40,572: Money raised by Team Porirua firefighters since December.

$887,078: Amount raised to date nationwide for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ.

$14,979: Amount Porirua man Paul Setefano raised by himself.

700: Firefighters took part in the Sky Tower Challenge.

1103: Steps climbed to the top.

25kg: Weight of the gear firefighters have to carry up the steps.

15min 23sec: Time it took Porirua firefighter Steve Mitchell to ascend the steps.

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