STAIRS can be an occupational hazard for firefighters, but St Clair’s Casey Robinson has never shied away from a challenge.
Ms Robinson, 26, has been training to climb the stairs at Sydney’s Centre Point Tower alongside her Lidcombe Fire Station workmates for the Climb for Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
She said Sunday’s climb would be a very personal moment with the cause one that was close to her heart. Casey’s grandfather Bill Phillips died of MND 11 years ago.
“It affected his top half first, he couldn’t eat properly and it affected his voice,” she said.
“It’s frustrating because their mind still works but the body doesn’t. He was always an active man. It was hard to watch him deteriorate like he did.”
MND refers to a group of diseases that involve the degeneration and death of nerve cells which control muscles in the body.
The former Nagle College student will be one of more than 400 Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters to take part in this year’s event, which raises funds for research into the debilitating disease.
Fire and Rescue NSW has set a target of raising $500,000 this year.
“I’d never heard of the disease before my grandfather was diagnosed with it,” she said.
“The amount of cases that you hear about now, it’s pretty big. My friend’s father passed away recently from MND.
“It’s basically a death sentence so if we can help to find a cure that would be amazing.”
Ms Robinson said she would be carrying about 20 kilograms worth of gear up 98 stories – a whopping 1504 stairs in total. She has been training in the gym wearing a weight belt and extra clothes to prepare her body for the stresses of the climb.
Mother Mandy Burgess said Casey’s determination to help find a cure for MND was “making the whole family proud.”
“This is something that touches us all and it’s incredible to see Casey and her colleagues doing this.
“She has always been a sporty person and she didn’t bat an eyelid when this event came up.
“I know she will get there. She will be riding on the wings of an angel.”
Ms Robinson played down the heroic nature of the climb, saying that the memories of her grandfather will be at the forefront of her mind on Sunday.
“I’ll definitely be thinking of my grandfather and my family that is still here. I want to make them proud,” she said.