Firefighter Sky Tower challenge takes on special meaning

  • Breaking
  • 23/05/2015

By Nina Burton

For one Otaki man, running up 51 flights of stairs has special significance after nearly dying in a car accident just eight months ago.

Firefighter Dave McHattie took part in the Sky Tower Stair Challenge, along with his fire brigade team who saved his life.

"I said from the day I woke up that I was going to do the tower," Mr McHattie says. "I think a lot of the doctors might have doubted it, and told me to hold fire on that."

When registrations for the Sky Tower Stair Challenge opened last November, Mr McHattie was in a coma after nearly losing his life in a car accident while on duty for his Otaki fire brigade.

His friends entered him anyway, and after being cleared by the doctors just two weeks ago, he was determined to do it.

"There will be no records this year, so just get to the top in my own pace and see how it goes."

The fundraiser for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand is in its 11th year, with fire brigades from all over New Zealand and the world taking part.

Long before the physical training starts, there is a massive fundraising push.

"We are pretty much on $1 million-worth of fundraising, which I cannot believe," says Mr McHattie. "I think we have to pinch ourselves every time we think about it."

"Everyone here is motivated by such a good cause," says Chrissy Smith, a volunteer firefighter. "[I have] heard lots of good stories of families who have suffered from leukaemia, so it is great just to help them a little bit."

Just like the day Mr McHattie's brigade got him out of that car wreck eight months ago, he is crediting them with getting him to the top of the tower today too.

"It is the boys that got me there," Mr McHattie says. "All the way through, from the support from the beginning to now, it has been awesome."

Next year's challenge is to do it again, but faster.

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