Ararat CFA's Michelle Turnham has decided to put her best foot forward and help raise awareness for several vital charities.
A familiar Melbourne charity staple, the eighth annual Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb, will be virtual in 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced 'A Million steps for Mental Health' to adapt for the second year in a row, with a month-long stair climb running from September 10 to October 10.
The event raises much-needed money for Lifeline, Fortem and the 000 Foundation and awareness for improved support services, fund research, remove stigmas, and raise awareness of mental health issues.
Mrs Turnham decided she would walk up and down the steps of the Alexandra Oval grandstand to reach her goal of the 3046 steps.
The goal of 3046 steps was introduced because that is how many Australians lose their lives to suicide each year.
Mrs Turnham said the experience had caused her to be out of her comfort zone; however, she wanted to give back to the community when people needed help the most.
"I thought I want to do it and raise awareness for mental health because I know a lot of people that have been affected," she said.
"It (MFFSC) supports all of those organisations, and 100 per cent of the donations goes to mental health, which is another thing that I am passionate about.
"I think I wanted to do it more this year because I think everyone's mental health is really struggling due to all these lockdowns with families being separated."
It is Mrs Durham's first time participating in the MFFSC after helping out in 2018 and 2019.
"I have volunteered to help out for two years at Crown Metropol, where it was held," she said.
"This is the first year I have actually participated and actually done the steps instead of standing there and cheering them on."
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Mrs Durham is participating in the stair climb to raise awareness for people struggling with their mental health.
"The whole idea behind it is great, I have family members, friends both in and out of the CFA that have struggled with mental health," she said.
"Being a part of the CFA another thing they majorly support is raising awareness for PTSI (post traumatic stress injury).
"Thankfully I haven't had to go through it myself but I know people who do suffer from PTSI due to things that have happened in their time in the CFA and all different emergency services.
"It's important to raise awareness."
Mrs Durham originally joined the Basin CFA to give back to the community in a non-operational capacity.
However, after joining the Ararat CFA in January last year, she hopes to join her husband on the front line after completing her general firefighting course last year.
"I joined the CFA over in Melbourne at a place called the Basin," she said.
"My son joined as a junior firefighter and I thought I really wanted to give back to the community so I joined as a non operational member.
"That role entailed supporting the brigade, supporting members, community events, helping raise money for the brigade overall assisting the brigade.
"I had been wanting to do more than just a non operational member, but life got in the way, but I recently completed my basic training which is exciting."
The event simulates the actions of a firefighter entering a burning high rise building, wearing full structural firefighting protective clothing.
For the final leg of Mrs Durham's stair climbing journey, she will wear her full firefighting gear to replicate the MFFSC experience in Melbourne.
"In the actual stair climb when they do it at Crown in Melbourne, a majority of the participants wear their full gear, ''she said.
"For the last time I come here I am planning on wearing my gear, to do the last steps.
"I was planning on doing it on October 10 on the last day."
Mrs Durham can be supported in her journey to reaching her $1000 goal via www.firefighterclimb.org.au/climber/michelleturnham/
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