Brother of fallen firefighter climbs for a cause - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Brother of fallen firefighter climbs for a cause

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SEATTLE, WA - "I remember him every day."

Every day, the Wildman family remembers their son...their brother. 

James Wildman was taken too soon.

Wildman and 25-year-old Dylan Bolt, both from Prosser, were killed January 7th near Naches after a day of skiing when Wildman lost control of his truck and the pickup landed in the Naches River. 

As two families grieved, James' other family was already hard at work. The West Benton Fire Department lost their brother too.

"We all met as a department, and then a couple of us came up with the idea to let his little brother Ben, who looked up to him, climb in his honor," said Keith Johnson with West Benton Fire and Rescue.

And by "climb", he's referring to the 26th Annual "Scott Firefighter Stairclimb" benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Firefighters from across the country and beyond come to Seattle's Columbia Center to climb up 69 floors: 1,356 steps. Participants raise money from donations leading up to the climb to donate to LLS.

For 21-year-old Ben Wildman, it gave him something to focus on during a time of tragedy.

"It kind of gave me something to work toward the last couple months," he said.

"James was the captain of the stair climb team this year, in fact, he was the only member going," said Johnson. "So we got approval for Ben to go in his honor, because this fire service is all about the brotherhood. And then LLS opened a couple of other positions so we can climb with him as a team so he doesn't climb alone. Brothers do everything together in the service."

So a Wildman would climb those stairs after all; Ben jumping into James' gear to make the trek, and James would make the climb as well, sitting right there on Ben's helmet. And then it was time for James' brothers to pay tribute to a man missed by so many, while raising money in an effort to save lives.

And just 24 minutes later, there he was at the top of the tower.

"I definitely was not ready," said Ben once he reached the top. "Wasn't expecting it to be this hard."

He might not have been completely prepared to climb those stairs, but Ben and James' dad Tedd says he's proud of how Ben has handled everything since James' accident.

"You watch a kid grow up in front of your eyes, but it's only through snapshots in time that you understand who they are," said Tedd Wildman. "He's grown so much in the last two months."

And as he tries to catch his breath high above the city, Ben has one more thing to say.

"I just want to say how great of a cause this is, blood cancer research...if you can donate, do it."

A great day in Seattle for the West Benton Fire Department, raising money to fight cancer...and honoring their fallen brother.

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