by: Maria Guerrero Updated:SEATTLE —
Firefighters from across the world gathered at Seattle's tallest skyscraper this morning.
Not for a fire -- but for a special mission that took them almost 800 feet in the air.
Some 1,700 firefighters rode up the escalator to the ground floor of the Columbia Center in Downtown Seattle.
They prepared to climb the city’s tallest building.
The building was no match for those thinking of loved ones.
"Some friends of mine that their family members have either suffered or have battled cancer," Marysville firefighter Jacob Kuehn said.
With their gear on, the firefighters climbed 69 flights of stairs, more than 1,300 steps in all.
Most stopped on the 40th floor to change out of low oxygen tanks.
This was not easy -- some collapsed -- but were cheered on by volunteers.
"It's super emotional,” volunteer Ashley McBride said. “It's almost like brink of tears just seeing them do this. I can't imagine doing it with all their gear."
The observation deck was the finish line.
Lt. Corey Gorham of Hermiston, Ore., first participated five years ago.
"I thought it was just a great way to get into shape and raise some money for a great organization," he said.
Now he climbs for his youngest daughter Maggie, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012.
"It’s a lot more personal now," Gorham said.
A mission accomplished -- in a battle not yet won.
Last year's event raised $1.44 million for blood cancer research and patient services.
This year, Seattle Fire raised more than $35,000.
As of 11 p.m. Saturday night, the fundraiser raised $1.5 million for blood cancer research and patient services.