History of the Portland Stairclimb

Wes Loucks, a retired Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter of 32 years, founded the Portland Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge when both of his grandsons were born with cystic fibrosis.

The Portland Firefighter Stairclimb is a competitive race up 40 floors and 800 steps of the U.S. Bancorp Tower. Firefighters will be outfitted in over 70 lbs. of full "Combat Gear" including Self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) commonly used in the line of duty. Racers compete for individual titles in both men and women categories.

In addition climbers compete to raise funds in the battle against cystic fibrosis. Since 2009 hundreds of firefighters from across the country and around the world have come to Portland to compete in our event and have raised over $1.2 million in the fight to beat cystic fibrosis and make CF stand for "CURE FOUND".

We are proud to list as our sponsors MSA (The Safety Company) Presenting Sponsor, Portland Firefighters Association Local 43, Presenting Sponsor, UNICO and U.S. Bancorp Tower, US Bank, Leatherman, F.I.R.E. Restoration, Kells Irish Pub, Northwest Safety Clean as well as many others.

I am Carson & Brandon’s Grandma, or as they call me “Grammy”.  The Portland Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge was originally started in 2009 for my two grandsons.  In our wildest dreams we never thought it would grow to this magnitude.   

When we found out April 15 2008, at 3 weeks old, that Carson had cystic fibrosis we were all shocked.  We were so scared of the unknown as we didn’t think there was a possibility that he could have CF.  My daughter Elicia found out she was a carrier of the CF gene while she was pregnant with Carson.  Her husband, Travis, went in to be tested and was told he was not a carrier.  You can only imagine our sigh of relief.  Unfortunately someone misread his test results and he was a carrier of the DeltaF508 gene same as Elicia.  So their story began after Carson’s official diagnosis….. 

In May of 2009 we welcomed Brandon, Carson’s new little brother.  Brandon spent the first two weeks of his life in Emanuel NICU.  It was during that stay that Brandon was officially diagnosed with CF.  The amazing strength that Elicia and Travis displayed was remarkable.  And so their story continues…..

You would never know by looking at these two adorable and extremely active boys that they are sick.  To visually witness their daily treatments and the volume of medications they consume in a day would astound you.  These two boys have endured more blood draws, medical procedures, operations, throat cultures, antibiotics and swallowing of pills in less than 9 years than the average adult does in a lifetime.  Keep in mind that for them to take a vacation or even go spend the night, Elicia & Travis have to literally pack up half of their house to make it happen, but that doesn’t stop them. 

It is so very humbling when people come from all around the world to participate in the Portland Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge.  These men and women race up 40 floors in full firefighting gear, which weighs on an average of 70 lbs, all the while breathing through their breathing apparatus.  I gained a whole new respect for what they do when I climbed in 2011 in full gear minus the air tank and face mask. 

I am a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child.  With that concept in mind, it also takes a village to help us find a cure for CF.  And all of these firefighters are a part of that. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to every climber, volunteer and sponsor.  Without all of you this climb would not have raised, to date, over $1.2 million to make CF stand for Cure Found.