Dan Nelson, the hero in the March 2009 Seattle Met story "Stairmaster," didn’t win the annual Firefighter Stairclimb, in which rescue workers compete in a race to the top of the Columbia Center (Seattle’s tallest building) to benefit leukemia and lymphoma research. The winner of this past Sunday’s event was 27-year-old Montanan Kory Burgess, who slayed all 69 stories (1,311 stairs) in a record breaking 10 minutes, 56 seconds. But as Nelson made clear, winning was never the point.

As we said in the print edition: “Nelson’s father died of leukemia, so every step on that tall snaking staircase is like a barrier to finding a cure, a thing to be stomped on, which he wants to do faster and faster each time.”

The 58 year old’s goal was to beat his time from last year: 21 minutes, 52 seconds. I tracked down the firefighter today (he was on duty) for an update. On Sunday, hurling up those stairs in full gear—oxygen tanks and everything—Nelson shaved 15 seconds off last year’s time. “So one year older and 15 seconds faster,” he said. “I’ll take that.”

Now his focus is on fundraising to help find a cure for leukemia and lymphoma—so others can avoid his father’s fate.

You can help Lieutenant Dan Nelson at llswa.org/goto/dannelson

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