Firefighters in Lakewood and Rocky River will be the beneficiaries of support raised at the Rotary Club of Lakewood-Rocky River’s Swim-a-Thon on March 1 at the Rocky River Recreation Center indoor pools from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Nearly $15,000 in funding is needed to purchase an infrared cycle sauna decontamination unit for the Rocky River Fire Department and a commercial grade Stairmaster for the Lakewood Fire Department.

The initiative’s goal is to help firefighters and first responders remove toxins from their bodies after fighting fires. After completing a five-year study of nearly 30,000 firefighters, researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded that firefighters in the study had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths.

The infrared sauna, with moderate exertion from riding the bicycle, promotes sweating, which is believed to be an effective way to remove toxins (particularly metals) from the body. While located at the fire station, the sauna is expected to be available to fire and safety personnel within the community.

The Stairmaster has been identified by the state fire marshal and the Lakewood Committee on Public Safety as an important piece of apparatus for fitness and training purposes. As Lakewood has numerous high-rise buildings, firefighters must have the strength and the endurance to carry heavy equipment into these buildings in intense heat.

Swim-a-Thon participants are invited to swim, aqua jog or water walk. Donations should be made payable to “Northern Ohio Firefighters Charities” and are tax-deductible. For information on the event, contact Harlan Radford, event coordinator, at harlanrjr@yahoo.com or (440) 376-5180, or Michelle Eibel, Rocky River civic center aquatics manager, at meibel@rrcity.com or (440) 895-2591.

There will be free refreshments and certified lifeguards on duty. The recreation center is located at 21016 Hilliard Blvd.

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