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Firefighter working to save lives on and off job

4/3/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

The 23rd Annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, a March 9 fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, took place at Columbia Center Tower in Seattle, shown above, with firefighters from all over the country.
Richfield firefighter Ron Boryk is pictured above as he finishes his climb of the Columbia Center Tower.
Photos courtesy of Ron Boryk
RICHFIELD — Richfield Fire Department fire medic Ron Boryk focuses on saving lives in his line of work, but he also likes to help people in his spare time.

On March 9, Boryk used some personal time to participate in the 23rd annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in Seattle. The event, themed Climb, Conquer, Cure, is a major fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) chapter in Seattle that involves climbing the 1,311 steps of the 69-floor Columbia Center Tower, which is the second tallest building west of the Mississippi, according to the event website at www.llswa.org (click on “Scott Firefighter Stairclimb”).

The LLS’s mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families, according to its website.

In 2013, the Stairclimb included 1,500 firefighters from 282 different departments and raised $1.44 million for blood-cancer research and patient services, according to the website. This year, the event hosted 1,800 firefighters, with the amount raised by participants to be announced May 1.

Boryk said he has participated in the Cleveland Erieview Tower and the Terminal Tower climb fundraisers, which have 39 and 43 floors, respectively.

“I have wanted to do Seattle because in the fire service, it is the granddaddy of all stair climbs,” he said. “Plus, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a great agency.”

Boryk said he raised money for the LLS in memory of his father, Alvin Boryk, who died from lymphoma in 2012; a brother-in-law, who developed leukemia from Agent Orange while he was a U.S. Marine in Vietnam; another brother-in-law, who was a U.S. Marine during Operation Desert Storm and developed Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and a sister-in-law, who has myeloma.

“These diseases are also very prevalent among firefighters because of their exposure to so many hazards,” he said.

Boryk, who competed in the over 50 age group, said he climbed the 69 floors to the observation deck of the Columbia Center Tower wearing full fire gear and a self-contained breathing apparatus.

“It was intense, and all I wanted to do was get to the top,” he said of the climb. “It was humbling to be around so many dedicated athlete firefighters from the USA.”

Boryk said he finished the climb in 24 minutes and 32 seconds, which was about the middle range. The top time was 11 minutes and 4 seconds in the men’s category and 16 minutes and 13 seconds in the women’s category, according to the event website.

Boryk said he has raised a little over $1,000 to date with help from fellow fighters in Richfield, Bath and Copley; American Heart Association Training Center co-workers at the Cleveland Clinic; and family and friends. He is continuing that effort in the hopes of reaching his goal of $1,311 to match the steps he climbed.

Anyone wishing to help Boryk reach his goal can go to the Firefighter Stairclimb Leukemia Society website and click “Donate” or make a check to LLS and mail it to the Richfield Fire Department, Ron Boryk, 4410 W. Streetsboro Road, Richfield, OH 44286.

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