Firefighter auction doubles donations

A local firefighter auction that raises money to fight blood cancers doubled its donations for the second consecutive year.

The Light My Fire Firefighter Auction & Concert so far has raised $12,149. That compares to last year’s total of $6,106.75 and the 2007 total of $3,261. The auction is a benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The event traditionally is held at The Pit Restaurant & Bar in Auburn the weekend following the annual Scott Firefighter Stair Climb.

“I was stunned that we doubled our fundraising again in this economy,” said event organizer Linda Kent of

“The generosity of our local community is tremendous,” agreed Dave Schwab, owner of The Pit, which donates the space for and helps sponsor the event. “I can’t thank our local community and local businesses enough for embracing this cause and coming together to support this worthy event.”

Event supporter Bill Hagstotz of, who donated photo services, said it was time well spent.

“I think the people’s spirit and efforts at Light My Fire were wonderful,” he said. “And I was amazed that, at the Stair Climb, firefighters came from all over the world.”

Ten auctionees from Olympia to Lake Stevens jumped up on the auction block to volunteer their time with high bidders. Auction winners gained either a four-hour date or four hours of labor, with winners donating to the Leukemia Society directly.

“Firefighters are such a supportive group – it’s incredible,” Kent said. “And talk about brave: It takes lots of guts to get up in front of a crowd and get auctioned off for four hours of your time.”

This year’s auctionees were: Keith Howard of Bonney Lake, 54, a captain for the Port of Seattle Fire Department; Jake Desmarteau of Olympia, 37, and Kyle Olson of Lacey, 24, both firefighters for Seattle Fire Department; Seth Maxwell of Enumclaw, 29, a firefighter with the Burien Fire Department; Mason Lewis of Puyallup, 28, a firefighter/paramedic with East Pierce Fire and Rescue; George Epperly of Poulsbo, 50, a firefighter/paramedic with Poulsbo Fire Department; Jennifer Dixon of Graham, 25, an ER nurse for Good Samaritan Hospital; Brent Dubay of Puyallup, 25, a captain and medical services officer with Riverside Fire and Rescue; Sean Cunningham of Lake Stevens, 22, a model who was representing Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey at the event and Juli Grace, 49, a teacher from University Place who jumped up on stage and joined the auction action at the end.

Firefighters weren’t the only ones who gave, Kent said. Local band 3rd Degree Burn performed, and Edward Nelson of the Seattle Pipes and Drums bagpipe band volunteered for a special guest appearance with the band, performing the AC/DC song, “It’s a Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll).

“I also give tremendous, tremendous credit to our auctioneer, Ron Mariotti of the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion,” Kent said. “It really helps to have someone who knows what they’re doing up there.”

Local businesses and organizations also donated some 70 items for the event’s silent auction, and two of the auction sponsors still raising funds. They are:

Hagstotz of has posted event photos on his Web site and will donate a portion of proceeds from each image purchased to the Leukemia Society. Click on the red Light My Fire links to see them.

Also, is donating a portion of proceeds from each “Hang 500 Feet Surfer” T-shirt to the Leukemia Society.

To say thanks and give back to the supportive community in these tough times, Schwab said The Pit also will offer $20 gift certificates to the restaurant for $10 each until April 15.

Kris Howard, Senior Campaign Director for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Washington chapter, said fund-raising for the society is vital.

No matter how large or small, she said, each donation is essential in helping to raise money to fund lifesaving research and support patients and their families.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. Its mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since 1949, the Society has invested more than $550.8 million for research specifically targeting blood cancers.

According to the society, more than 747,000 Americans have leukemia, myeloma or lymphoma, the most common form of blood cancer. Among children under 20, leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer. In 2006, an estimated 2,640 Washingtonians were diagnosed with blood cancer and an estimated 1,150 lost their battle with the disease.