DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Melissa High School juniors Haley Helmberger and Kaleb Hurst started their Saturday morning by staring up at 52 flights of stairs.
Just after 10 a.m., the two 16-year-olds got to work. Alongside more than 1,000 others, they ascended every last flight at Fountain Place to help raise money to fight blood cancers as part of the annual Big D Climb challenge.
“Just seeing all the people go up was awesome and with each stair I kept telling myself, keep doing it for the people who can’t,” Haley said.
In a special essay published in The Anna-Melissa Tribune last week, Haley’s mother Tina explained that a well-known community member was recently diagnosed with lymphoma.
Her daughter climbed for that man, 52-year-old Anna resident and family friend Dwight Munger, while Kaleb climbed in honor of his Grandpa Charles and friend Julie Anderson, who was recently diagnosed.
“She’s a close friend,” Hurst said of Anderson. “When I heard about her diagnosis, I was speechless, So I decided to do this to help her.”
The goal for this year’s fundraising event is $100 thousand. Combined, the 16-year-olds put a $4,000 dent in that number.
“I never thought I would be able to accomplish that,” Hurst said.
The Big D Climb is an annual fundraising event held by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Participants raise money for weeks beforehand, then climb all 52 stories of downtown Dallas’s Fountain Place.
Haley Helmberger said the charity climb is for more than just the honorees who were represented.
“It really impacts everybody and a lot of people,” Haley said. “I didn’t know it was this big, so when I found out I wanted to do something.”
Organizers say the event has grown tremendously each year.