Kiwi blood cancer survivor scales the Skytower



A Kiwi cancer survivor has successfully raised $15,000 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand after scaling the Sky Tower’s 1103 steps, bogged down with 25 kilograms of firefighter kit.

Watch: Lymphoma survivor David Downs participated in Saturday’s Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge – and challenged Mark Richardson to beat his time next year. Credits: The AM Show

The annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge raised almost $800,000 for the charity, an organisation that has supported numerous Kiwis through their battles with blood cancer.

Partakers of the challenge are clad in firefighter gear – including the uniform, breathing apparatus and helmets – while they scale the Auckland landmark’s extensive staircases.

Lymphoma survivor David Downs was one of the participants on Saturday, raising a substantial sum for the charity that provided crucial support throughout his grueling treatment.

“I’m in remission now, I’m really lucky I got through that – but all the way through when I had cancer, I was supported by Leukemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. The charity does all sorts of things to help patients,” Downs said on The AM Show on Monday morning.

“When they asked me if I’d climb the Sky Tower to raise some money, I said sure. That was like nine months ago, and I forgot about it – then [the time came] and I was like, ‘oh my God, I’ve got to do it’.”

Downs says the annual event gave him a target when he began to work on improving his health and fitness – a goal he set for himself following intensive chemotherapy.

“I wanted to get fit and healthy. After having cancer, going through chemotherapy, I started doing some training, but I needed a goal. This was a great goal,” he said.

“Part of this is the celebration that New Zealand can do these sort of events – people who have cancer, who are immune-compromised, don’t have to sit at home in cotton wool.”

Downs also posed a challenge to The AM Show co-host and sports-reader, Mark Richardson.

“I’m doing it next year, would one of the three of you join me?” he asked Richardson, host Ryan Bridge and newsreader Amanda Gillies.

“I’d definitely do it,” Richardson volunteered. “Without a doubt.”

Downs, who completed the challenge in 19 minutes, 48 seconds, challenged Richardson, a former cricketer, to beat his time in the 2021 event.

“That’s my time to beat, I think I can do it next year. If you can [beat] that, I’ll buy you a beer.”

“Buy it now,” Richardson quipped.

Newstalk ZB host and broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan was the fastest woman to ascend the stairs, with a time of 12 minutes, 29 seconds.

The challenge has currently raised $789,967.19 – 79 percent of its fundraising goal.


Story shared from Newstalk ZB

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Battle Bus Bonanza!

We are so proud to take part in such an awesome event, with our patients, nurses, doctors,  Sky Sports Breakers and Mai FM DJ’s.

“Everyone knows through Covid what it’s like to be isolated, but these patients are isolated throughout their whole treatment so they can’t attend any special events other people are able to do.”


Hilary Barry hosts hair-raising virtual event for charity

Hilary Barry is hosting a new virtual charity event on June 6th where 25 people will Shave Live to save lives.

“People from all over New Zealand are coming together to shave off their lockdown hair. It’s a live online fundraiser for a wonderful cause supporting thousands of Kiwis with blood cancer,” says Hilary Barry.

Shave Live is part of the iconic Shave for a Cure fundraising event by Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC). The Covid-19 environment forced the cancellation of their usual fundraising events creating a gaping hole in their income.

“We were facing a 70% revenue loss because of Covid-19 – so it was sink or swim for many charities like us.  We made a conscious decision to innovate and change the way we do things. This includes moving fundraising events online such as Live Shave. Organisations need to think quickly and become agile to survive the new normal the virus has created,” says Peter Fergusson, CEO of LBC.

Hilary is excited to be involved in the first-ever mass shave event streaming online for the charity.

“I’ve been involved in Shave for a Cure for a number of years and enjoy getting on the clippers, with varying degrees of success. But this year because of Covid we’re having to do things a little differently which is exciting,” says Hillary Barry

LBC provides support services to ease the burden that blood cancer patients face. Being in lockdown posed challenges, but the organisation took it in their stride by adapting to a new approach.

“Our team worked around-the-clock, through all alert levels changing the way we do things. We were determined to maximise the care and support we offered regardless of Covid-19 barriers.  Support groups moved online, and we live-streamed online patient Q&A sessions with health professionals.   We increased the help we give to the most vulnerable patients by keeping in close contact by phone, text, and online. We also changed the format of the annual patient conference to an online symposium,” says Peter Fergusson.

Live Shave participants spin the Shave Wheel of Fun to choose their crazy shave style. You can watch, donate and celebrate the brave online shaves! Tune in to Live Shave, 3 pm on Saturday 6th of June at

Live Shave is transforming into a roaring success; so much it will likely become an annual event for LBC.  Hilary has some tips for people keen to get into the action.

“I encourage anyone to sign up to Shave for a Cure – it runs all year round. It’s a fantastic way to show your support for blood cancer patients. What better way to get a new lid than to raise money for charity at the same time. And if its a disaster, don’t worry, it’ll always grow back! If you’re too shy to shave you can always donate,” says Hilary.

Learn more here

Can You Take On The Capital Challenge of 4,500 Stairs Fundraising for Charity?

Westpac Stadium has been the scene of many a Kiwi sporting triumph and some truly banging concerts over the years. This November, it could also be the place where you smash one of your loftiest fitness goals for 2018 — all while contributing to a great cause.

Stadium Climb Wellington is a new outdoor challenge where you traverse one of the country’s most prized venues in the name of charity. Come 07 November, it won’t be doughnut vendors marching up and down the Westpac Stadium aisles — instead, you’ll be joining hundreds of other climbers as you navigate the stadium’s 4500 steps.

The event is a fundraiser for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. The funds raised will go towards helping local patients with blood cancer or a blood related condition, and their families.You can learn more about why we fundraise.

Feel free to tackle the challenge solo, or gather your mates and sign up  as a team for moral support and added fun. The challenge isn’t a timed race; it’s simply designed to be a fun way to get fit (yes, there are prizes on the day + medals) and support a worthy cause.

Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) is the national charity dedicated to supporting patients and their families living with blood cancers and related blood conditions The organisation receives no direct government funding.

Key facts about blood cancers
•Based on Ministry of Health data close to 21,000 people are living with a blood cancer in New Zealand.
•Every day, 6 New Zealanders are diagnosed with a blood cancer. That is one person every four hours.
•Blood cancers combined (leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma) are the fifth most common form of cancer in New Zealand
•Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer, while lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in 15 – 24 year-olds.

Visit to learn more.

Red Hot Chilli Steppers – Live at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium

Dunedin locals get the chance to celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones and kick start their fitness for summer with the Stadium Climb charity event on October 13th with Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC).

Hundreds have signed up for Stadium Climb to take on the 60-minute stair challenge for cancer. Some of the quirky teams this year competing to raise much needed funds for Otago children and adults affected by blood cancers include the Red Hot Chilli Steppers, Stop and Stair, Cirque du Sore Legs and …Stair it in the Face.

“It’s a high energy event with an emphasis on fun! What better location than the iconic rugby venue, Forsyth Barr stadium. Take on the stadium stairs with music pumping to help find a cure for blood cancer. You might even walk away with a prize,” says CEO, Peter Fergusson from LBC.

Money raised by Stadium Climb provides emotional and practical support for Dunedin cancer patients. People like 23-year-old Alex Yarnell, who was diagnosed with leukaemia while completing his engineering degree.

“I had multiple rounds of chemotherapy, blood transfusions and my younger brother donated stem cells for a bone marrow transplant. It was a tough journey, and LBC walked alongside my family to help support us,” says Alex.

Alex was in an eighth-floor hospital ward receiving treatment to keep him alive during the Stadium Climb event last year. Medical staff from his haematology ward rallied around and entered two teams The Bloody Idiots and Hemodynamix to support the cause. They were the top fundraisers for the event with over $10,000 fundraised to help Dunedin patients living with cancer.

Fast forward to 2019 and Alex is in remission and training for this year’s event with his faithful dog and exercise buddy named Chemo.

“It would mean a lot to me to be competing in Stadium Climb this year alongside medical staff who treated me in hospital. I’d like to show them how far I’ve come and how fit the doctors and nurses have made me. It’s rewarding raising money for other patients with leukaemia like me,” says Alex.

People can tackle the challenge solo, or get a team of mates for added fun.

“What a blast to conquer 5,200 steps at the Highlanders home ground alongside the Red Hot Chilli Steppers. It’s up to you whether you are competitive or take it at your own pace. It’s the perfect time to kick start your fitness for summer and support a great cause. Places are filling fast, so I encourage locals to register now,” says Peter Fergusson.

Need more info or to register? Visit the website

Join the Wellington Stair Challenge for Blood Cancer

Wellington residents and workplaces are quick to sign up for Stadium Climb – a new outdoor stair challenge where locals traverse the famous ‘cake tin’ venue to raise money for cancer patients on November 7th.

“It’s a special event for me because I’m doing it to remember my father who lost his battle with leukaemia. I want to fundraise and support others like him, its an opportunity to make a difference,” says Shelly van der Krogt who has just registered for the event.

Shelly will be joining hundreds of other locals as she navigates 4,500 steps at Westpac Stadium for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC).

“Our organisation receives no direct government funding, so Stadium Climb is essential to provide much-needed support for blood cancer patients in the Wellington region. Money raised in Wellington stays in Wellington, providing emotional and practical support as well as education and research to find a cure,” says Peter Fergusson, CEO of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Teams and individuals signed up already are currently battling for the top of the fundraising leader board. The amount raised will climb over the coming weeks as Wellingtonians get donations to bolster much-needed blood cancer services for patients in their region.

People like 26-year-old Noelle who moved to Wellington by herself and was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma. It was a tough journey after six rounds of chemotherapy, but LBC was able to walk alongside her with tailored support, as Noelle explains:

“I’d say to anyone going through blood cancer to get in touch with LBC – they really helped me. I also think having a positive attitude made a big difference!” Noelle finished her last treatment in May and is now in full remission. Every dollar fundraised will ensure patients like Noelle in Wellington get the support they need to get through cancer.

“It’s a high energy event for all fitness levels with an emphasis on fun. There will be music pumping as you climb, and the views are spectacular from the stands in the mighty Westpac stadium. It’s not a timed race; it’s a fun way to get fit for summer and support a worthy cause, and yes, there are spot prizes and medals. Tackle the challenge solo, or grab your workmates or friends to register as a team for moral support and added fun,” says Peter.

To sign-up, donate or learn more go to

Sky Tower grants special access to businesses and the public

Businesses and people who want to kick start their fitness are quick to sign-up for the unique opportunity to climb 1,103 stairs of the largest structure in the southern hemisphere with the Step Up Sky Tower Stair Challenge on August 9th.

“What a buzz to climb the Sky Tower stairs, which is normally a restricted area for the public. It’s a massive vertical rush and an epic feeling when you reach the top and take a selfie over the Hauraki Gulf. It’s all for a good cause, to support patients living with blood cancer,” says Will Laery from the BNZ team.

Will competed last year, and he can’t wait to do it all over again in 2019.

“I had a blast last year!  It’s a great team building exercise with my workmates.  It’s also a fun, physical challenge that helps with office well-being and stress-busting,” says Will. Participants can compete as an individual or make it even more fun with a team.

“Grab your workmates, your mates….or whoever you can to create a team of three or five. It’s a high energy event for all levels of fitness.  It is your only chance to take on the Southern Hemisphere’s largest building in 2019. There are limited places available, so I encourage people to register soon and start training. ,” says Peter Fergusson CEO of Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Amy Trigg has signed up with a team of three and has started fundraising using her social media contacts. “I’ll test my time against Dad who competed in the sister event; the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge. He loved it so much I want to see for myself what all the fuss is about. It also gives me the chance to get fit while supporting my favourite charity,” says Amy.

According to LBC, there is an awards ceremony in the Sky Tower after the event where competitors can enjoy drinks and nibbles while meeting other teams.

“When I finish the challenge I’m going out for a meal with my team and a cold beer in the Sky Tower. You need a beer after these things – it’s well earned,” says Amy.

Registrations have just opened, and already teams and individuals are battling to be top of the fundraising leader board. The fundraising total will climb over the coming weeks as teams across the country raise money through office bake sales, raffles, movie nights and inter-office sweepstakes.

LBC receives no government funding, so fundraising is essential, and the goal for this event is $550,000.  Money raised will provide emotional and practical support to blood cancer patients as well as education and research to find a cure.

This event is only made possible thanks to the generosity of  LBCs main sponsor SKYCITY.

“We’re thrilled to once again support and host the Step Up Sky Tower Stair Challenge for our charity partner, LBC. Every year, we encourage the public and our SkyCity employees to take part and always get an overwhelming response. We encourage anyone who is thinking of participating, whether it be in a team, or individually, to give it a go.” says Brad Burnett, GM – SKYCITY Hotels & Tower.

Limited places available, to register or find out more go to the website



Firefighters Smash Records for Charity

Firefighters have fundraised a recording breaking $1,307,637.02 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) on the 15th anniversary of the annual Firefighters Sky Tower Stair Challenge on Saturday.

“Firefighters and their communities have a burning desire to help our charity. We are incredibly grateful for their generosity and dedication – especially smashing 14 years worth of fundraising on the anniversary of this special event. We don’t receive any government funding, so the money raised is the backbone of our service to support patients,” says CEO of LBC, Peter Fergusson.

This year was particularly memorable for DJ aged 11 from Auckland who has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. DJ become an honorary fireman for the day, with a helmet and mini firefighter uniform. He wasn’t able to climb the 1103 stairs himself, so he completed a portion of the challenge accompanied by his heroes from the fire service – Philip Shore and John Danes from Waiuku Brigade as well as Tony Scott from Airport Rescue Fire Auckland.

John Danes did something extra special and donated his trusty firefighting helmet to DJ before the event.

“It was challenging, and fun and I want to do it again. When I get better I want to train to be a fireman so I can join the Waiuku fire brigade and be in this event running all the 51 floors with them,” says DJ.

Donal McGoldrick, a Support Services Co-ordinator from LBC who has worked with DJ over the last year, accompanied him and the firefighters to the finish line.

“It has been a rough year for DJ, so it’s great to be a part of something that puts a smile on his face. It was deeply moving to do something special like this for him,” says Donal.

Firefighters in the event ran up 51 flights of stairs in the Sky Tower with 25kg worth of firefighting kit and breathing apparatus. This year the Firefighters of Steel category added another 9 floors to the challenge finishing on the 60th floor. A new rural category was trialled, some rural firefighters raced with a chainsaw strapped to their back instead of an oxygen cylinder.

Genesis Energy ERT from Genesis Huntly Power Station took the honour of being the top fundraising team, raising an astounding $61,003 for LBC. Henry Wilson from Silverstream Brigade in Wellington raised $21,135 and received the accolade as the top individual fundraiser in the event.

Josh Harrison from Mt Wellington came first overall, reaching the 51st floor in just eight minutes and 34 seconds. Ady Mckenzie from Whangarei was the fastest female with a time of 11 minutes and 20 seconds. Other race results can be found here.

“A unique challenge like this is not reserved just for the firefighting community – the public can get involved too with the Step Up Sky Tower Challenge on the 9th of August. This is the only time the general public get access to climb 1,103 stairs of the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere. At the same time, you will be supporting blood cancer patients. There are limited places available, so I encourage people to register soon and start training,” says Peter.

To register or find out more information, please email

Firefighters Raise 7.2 million for Cancer Charity

May 18th is a special day for 1000 firefighters gathering at the base of the Sky Tower for the 15th anniversary of the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge – a fundraising event to support Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC).

“I’m humbled by the passion, effort and generosity of the firefighting community. That generosity has culminated in 7.2 million dollars over the last 15 years to support blood cancer patients. It is the link back to the communities around the country and level of funds raised that make this event special,” says CEO of LBC Peter Fergusson.

Photographs of cancer survivors and those who have passed, decorate firefighters helmets and the walls of the sky tower as they run up 51 flights of stairs in the name of charity. Families watching are clutching photos of loved ones affected by cancer, as they cheer on the firefighters.

“The photos tug at your heartstrings as you pass them one by one, going up the tower. It’s an emotional day, and we are pushed to our limits physically. It’s intense running up 1,103 stairs wearing breathing apparatus and 25kgs worth of firefighting kit,” says Tony Scott (Scottie) who is the firefighter organising and participating in this event since it began.

Paul Austin and his fire service team from Marsden 22 Refinery will be carrying a photo of Florence London, a four-year-old girl with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Paul met a friend of Florence’s family by chance in a park, and he has decided to dedicate the Sky Tower climb to her. Florence is currently undergoing treatment at Starship hospital.

Norman Bradshaw, a firefighter from Ellerslie Fire station, is a blood cancer survivor and is also competing in the event.

“It is an opportunity to show my gratitude to the amazing people at Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand who supported me when I needed it. It’s incredible to play a part in raising money in the search to find a cure for blood cancer,” says Norman.

Other ways fundraising from this event helps LBC is by providing emotional and practical support, education and patient advocacy.

The event has 10% of New Zealand’s fire service participating. The actual challenge starts when registrations open, this year the event sold out in 32 minutes with 200 on the waiting list.

Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge started from humble beginnings. In the early days, 88 firefighters fundraised $17,500. This year it’s 1000 firefighters who are on track to conquering a million dollar fundraising target. Participants in 2019 include 38 international firefighters from USA, Croatia, Cook Islands and Australia.

“LBC does not receive government funding. The support of brigades and their communities provides the backbone of our service to those patients who need it most,” says Peter.

This event is only made possible thanks to the generosity of SKYCITY and Auckland Airport.

“For 15 years we have partnered with Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. SKYCITY is proud to continue to support this incredible charity and this fundraising event through our icon, the Sky Tower,” says Brad Burnett, GM – SKYCITY Hotels & Tower.

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause, please go to

Police chase donuts to support blood cancer patients

Wellington police have shown their support for blood cancer patients by entering a team called The Donut Chasers in the Stadium Climb Wellington event on Friday 16th November.

“We’ve got an advantage because we can issue speeding tickets to competitors trying to overtake us on the course. They would be fake tickets of course,” says Senior Sergeant Kate Saxton from the Royal New Zealand Police College.

Leukaemia Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) is the organisation running the event to raise money for Wellington locals affected by blood cancer.

“It is a high energy event for the people of Wellington with an emphasis on fun. Locals get the opportunity to climb 4,500 steps in time to music and they can win prizes. What better location than the iconic rugby venue Westpac stadium,” says LBC Chief Executive Officer Peter Fergusson.

The Donut Chasers are well on their way to reaching their fundraising target. To get sponsorship they have been ‘on the case’ of family, friends and local businesses.

“I encourage other Wellington organisations to enter. It could be a fun team building exercise, fitness training or social club activity,” says Kate.

Stadium Climb Wellington is a special event for another participant, Chris Revell.

Chris used to be a referee and has refereed at Westpac stadium. He is competing in honour of his father Alan who died of myeloid leukaemia.

“I shared my love of rugby with Dad. We had season passes and would watch the games together when I was not refereeing. I have an affinity with this venue and being involved will be powerful and bring back many memories,” says Chris.

Chris has set some ambitious fitness goals to get ready for the event.

“There are 21 floors in the ANZ Centre, I run up and down the building seven times during a typical training session. Not everyone involved will take it as seriously as me. I’m motivated by the opportunity to raise money for blood cancer patients. My advice to Wellingtonians who are thinking about signing-up ……just do it!” says Chris.

The event is on Friday 16 November from 3pm. For more information or to register please visit the Stadium Climb website.