Wollert and District CFA volunteer Aaron Fitzell is stepping up to raise awareness and funds for mental health in this year’s Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb.
The stair climb is an annual charity event that sees firefighters take on flights of stairs to raise money for Lifeline, Black Dog Institute and 000 Foundation to improve mental health services and support.
For the first time in its seven-year history, the stair limb isn’t being held at the Crown Metropol, with participants instead being challenged to collectively accumulate steps over a month-long period.
Aaron said his own personal struggles with mental health issues served as motivation to help raise funds for this year’s event.
“Mental health issues affect many Victorian firefighters,” Aaron 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.”
This year’s stair climb event, named One Million Steps for Mental Health, kicked off on ‘R U OK’ day on 10 September and will run through to World Mental Health day on 10 October.
“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 along in our battles,” Aaron said.
“There is always support available.”
More than $2.4 million has been raised for a variety of charities since the first stair climb in 2014, with funds raised from this year’s event going towards Lifeline, the Black Dog Institute and the 000 Foundation.
Participants are encouraged to share their workout progress on social media, by tagging #MFSCMillionSteps on their pictures and videos. Registrations are already open and will remain open throughout the month-long event.