A different kind of climb

Wollert and District CFA volunteer Aaron Fitzell took part in this year’s Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb to raise awareness and money for mental health.

For the first time in its seven-year history, the stair climb was not held at Crown Metropol due to COVID-19, but participants were instead challenged to collectively accumulate steps over the course of a month.

The annual charity event sees firefighters tackle massive numbers of stairs, all in the name of raising money for Lifeline, the Black Dog Institute and the 000 Foundation to improve mental health support services.

This year’s stair climb event, named One Million Steps for Mental Health, kicked off on ‘R U OK’ day on September 10 and ran through to World Mental Health Day on Saturday.

Mr Fitzell said he was motivated to join the fundraiser by his own personal struggles with mental health.

“Mental health issues affect many Victorian firefighters,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to when I was struggling.

“It was only when I had a conversation with my ex-Lieutenant that made me consider seeking help.

“From there, Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute helped me on my path to recovery.”

Mr Fitzell said there was always support available.

“Now I’m stepping up to help others get the support they need and to show that even though we feel it we aren’t alone in our battles,” he said.

More than $2.4 million has been raised for a variety of charities since the first stair climb in 2014.

Participants were encouraged to share their workout progress on social media, by tagging #MFSCMillionSteps on their pictures and videos.

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